What one piece of advice do you wish that you had received as a young professional?
I struggled with the answer to this question, because I was blessed with several great mentors in my years as a young professional. The advice I received was sound, and I gained a great deal of sound technical knowledge in the process. Clearly their advice helped me to become who I am today.
The bit of advice that I was missing from my early mentors was that no one ever told me that TO BE A LEADER IS TO SERVE. Got that? To be a leader is to serve others.
It took me years to learn this truth. As a youngster, I pictured a leader as something of a drill sergeant; telling others what to do and how to do it. Through the school of hard knocks, I learned that being a leader often means leading by example. In order to do so, one must lead by doing.
When we chartered the Central Virginia Chapter of CSI in 1990, I was in the midst of raising a family. During the pre-charter meetings hosted by then Institute Director Byron Dickson, I realized that if I expected an organization that benefits me to exist, I’d better be willing to assume a leadership role, and became the first treasurer of the chapter.
Fast forward about 15-20 years and I watched my three daughters take on leadership roles in the organizations they belong to. I did not deliberately teach my children to be leaders, but as they say, your children don’t do as you say, they do as you do.
Somewhere between my misguided high school days of envisioning a leader as a drill sergeant and the time I was participating in CSI leadership, I figured out that in order to lead, I must be willing to work hard and be of service to others.