Leadership lessons: Five things I wish I did sooner

Throughout my 30-year-career, I’ve worked in the private and public sector. Positions ranged from unpaid intern to director. Today, I have my own business, based at home. I’ve always gathered learnings along the way, but looking backwards at a career provides nuggets you just don’t see at the beginning. Here are five things I wish I’d known sooner.

  1. Network more and keep up with those networks.
    They will help you… My son lived with a woman whom I worked with twenty years before when he went to university. You never know where those people will end up in life and how they may be able to help you later. One of the reporters I worked with in my second television news reporting job, her brother is now leader of a provincial party. Diarize sending quick hello emails to those you want to keep connected with.
  2. You will fail.
    You will be let go. Your job will be eliminated, even if you were an “A” student or the top performer. When this happens, seek professional help to work through all the feelings. Most of us are incapable of processing all the emotions in a healthy way so we can let it go, invoke resilience and shine ever more brightly on the other side.
  3. Listen to every conversation for the nugget of wisdom.
    There is something to be learned from everyone, but we have to shut down our own mouths to hear what that is. And the wisdom might not come through in the exact moment you hear it, but later when you need it.
  4. Promote yourself and your skills more.
    Talk yourself up in a way that isn’t boastful, but still enables people to see your successes. I’m not a shrinking wall-flower, but humble was what I saw in my home, so I didn’t tell my success stories as well as I could have. Pride is when you are bragging. Marketing is when people know what you do and that you are good at it.
  5. Get on a Board early.
    Then work up to take on the role as president, even if you think you aren’t good enough. This can be a volunteer position with a club, a professional organization or a business. The type of board matters less than the valuable skills the experience will teach you, such as diplomacy, leading a meeting, strategic thinking and planning, project management, etc.

Myrna Stark Leader

Myrna Stark Leader (APR, ABC) is a freelance writing and communications professional in Kelowna. She’s the COEDC Agriculture Support Specialist and Connector Program Coordinator and a Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Director. Myrna has a proven track record of leadership – from launching issues management and social media at Farm Credit Canada (Canada’s leading agriculture lender), to advising senior officials and provincial ministers, as well as growing and strengthening the City of Regina Communications Department as their Director. At the end of 2018, she contributed to an award-winning Farm Credit Canada mental wellness in agriculture publication delivered to 176,000 rural/farm mailboxes across the country.

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4 responses to “Leadership lessons: Five things I wish I did sooner”

  1. Thank you for sharing these, Myrna. I can relate to each of these 5 tips, and also see how I could have focused on them more earlier in my career, especially the networking one.

    • Myrna Stark Leader says:

      Thank you so much Cristine. I heard about the value of networking fairly early in my career. I didn’t prioritize it like I could have, especially keeping in touch somewhat regularly with contacts. I’m future focused so I spend more time looking ahead. However, a quick email or text lets someone you’re connected with know you’re thinking about them. I do this way more often now. More frequent and intentional interactions have meant stronger relationships and also referrals, references, me helping someone and them helping me.

  2. Great nuggets Myrna! I echo Christine’s comments about keeping up the networks, they’re invaluable and so easy with technology.

    • Myrna Stark Leader says:

      You are so right Denise. Thanks for commenting. I’d love to hear how you or others who read this keep their networks alive. It was really tough when I was in my 30s and 40s and had kids, work, volunteer commitments and still needed some personal downtime. I think voice recordings on phones now are a great tool. You can literally say “hello” in a personal greeting that takes less time to do than an email. And, I find it really fun to actually hear the other person.

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