Rise above negative leadership examples to live your purpose.
You can remember the moment like it was yesterday, maybe it was yesterday. The moment when you made a pledge to yourself, “If I am ever in charge I will never be like that person.”
This pledge applies to a variety of arenas including parenting, business, sports, hobbies, politics, etc. The area of application that we will focus on for this exercise is with positions of leadership in business.
Rise above the negative examples of leadership
More often than not, when you focus on what you don’t want to be, you will limit your development. When you stop to think about the tier of mediocre role models in your life, those who had some good qualities but don’t make the top 10 list of leaders, were they trapped in the shadow of their negative experiences?
If your only goal is not to be like someone whom you were harmed by or despised, you allow that person to continue to hold a grasp on your potential.
I am not trying to be an armchair psychologist. As such, I am speaking from personal experience with my own pledges as well as those I have heard directly from people in a position of leadership. I remember one manager who was so committed to not being what their former manager was that they fell short of clarifying their own identity and clear purpose as a leader.
Embrace your identity and live your purpose as a leader
When your vision is to not be like so-and-so you are more likely to become a replica of so-and-so than you are to embrace your identity. Don’t allow negative leadership examples to take residence in your personal and professional development. You are not your former boss and the best way to ensure you don’t become them is to carve out your own purpose.
Stop comparing yourself to others. The pledge is useless. Saying, “At least I am not like so-and-so,” is nowhere near as important as being able to say, “I am learning to embrace my identity and live my purpose.” Build a bridge and get over that terrible boss. Pursue your purpose and if you reach a point of leadership don’t allow them to shape your vision.
Leadership development resources from The DYOJO:
How often do you hear someone make an observation that something is broken in the world around us? It’s easy to share your opinions about fragmented systems with your friends under the guise of, “Just wanting to see a better future.” What separates the naysayers and bystanders from the doers is rather simple, it includes rolling up your sleeves, getting into the mess that you see and becoming a part of the solution.
I recently came across a beautiful quote,
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once
Whether you believe in the same cause, when you meet a volunteer, you are faced with someone who is invested in being a part of the change that they want to see. Change is not easy. It takes years to get into a mess and it typically takes much longer to get out of it. When we connect with others, to collaborate towards the results we want to see, we have a much better shot at conquering the obstacles of improvement. I enjoy hearing the stories of everyday people who are working to develop themselves and are intentional about making a change in the world around them.
Marina Tanay currently serves as the Capital Projects and Facilities Manager for the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. Marina was recently voted in as the President of the Washington Association of Maintenance and Operations Administrators (WAMOA). WAMOA is a professional networking and education association for those working in the realm of facilities and operations in educational settings. We had the opportunity to meet and to interact for this interview.
The DYOJO: You have been with Sumner School District for 11 years, correct?
Marina Tanay: I actually started with the Sumner School District over 19 years ago.
DYOJO: Did you plan to be working in facilities/capital improvement when you started your career?
Marina: When I first started, I just wanted to work around my kids' school schedules and have a job that I didn't have to take home with me. My background as a paralegal and a writer made me seek out more and more responsibility as my kids got older. After subbing in M&O, I found my niche.
DYOJO: Did you start in part time work? What position was your first?
Marina: I did start part time in the child nutrition world with the district as a cashier. It worked for me as I had just recently been diagnosed with cancer and I wanted to have a job that I didn't have to put so much of myself into while I dealt with that. I had previously been writing and doing advertising for a small local newspaper.
DYOJO: Wow, cancer. What led to this discovery?
Marina: I had a very rare cancer called chondrosarcoma in my right hand. I had a lump in my hand that I questioned being a tumor, but the doctor thought it was a cyst. It grew for about 3 to 4 years in my hand before I insisted on follow up. At that time, my options for treatment were limited. The cancer wasn't one that would respond to chemotherapy and radiation wasn't an option with my hand. So amputation was my only real option.
DYOJO: How old were your children when you were given this news?
Marina: My kids were both in elementary school when I was diagnosed in 2000. My kids were troupers. I worked with school counselors to make sure they had support on the school side and my husband and I were open and honest with them throughout.
DYOJO: Scary stuff. Glad that you and the family made it through.
Marina: Getting through it was mostly an emotional battle. It wasn't always easy, but I got through it.
DYOJO: You are originally from this area, what has kept you here?
Marina: I am a native Washingtonian and have lived all over this state. My husband recently retired from Boeing and it was his employment at Boeing in Auburn that helped keep us in this particular area.
DYOJO: Federal, state, county, city and district budgets are always an area of concern for local communities and their schools. What are some of the unique challenges you face working on facilities and capital improvement within the public sector?
Marina: Such a true statement! It is challenging on both the general fund and capital budget sides. For the general fund, with McCleary, we've had to go through a couple rounds of budget cuts that have been a challenge for the entire district. It's hard to lose good co-workers to layoffs. From the capital perspective, the hot Northwest construction market has not helped school districts. I miss the days in 2009, 10 and 11, when our projects were routinely bidding below estimate!
DYOJO: What have been some of the most rewarding projects you have worked on?
Marina: I have been very fortunate to work on projects from two bond initiatives. I'm most proud of the elementary schools we have opened in Tehaleh as I worked closely on the FF&E for both projects:
DYOJO: You are the incoming president for WAMOA, how did you first hear about the organization and when did you become a member?
Marina: WAMOA is the Washington Association of Maintenance & Operations Administrators. I remember becoming acquainted with WAMOA in the early 2000s by reading the journals. I began attending region meetings about 7 or 8 years ago.
DYOJO: These WAMOA journals in the early 2000s, are those similar to the quarterly publication that WAMOA currently sends out?
Marina: Yes, I inherited a binder of early WAMOA journals that I really treasure.
DYOJO: For those who are not familiar tells us a bit about WAMOA and why you believe it is of value to those working in education?
Marina: WAMOA's core mission is reflected in our new vision statement: Developing successful facility leaders through professional collaboration. Managing school facilities is unique in the industry and our organization is an invaluable resource for its members. As a team, we work to provide up-to-date, useful information to support our members' success in their work and to develop as leaders in our field and our districts.
DYOJO: What sparked your interest in being involved in the leadership for WAMOA? What have you learned about working to serve your members as well as combine your voices to position your association to initiate positive change within the larger context?
Marina: At the heart of it is my desire to serve. I value my peers and am proud to serve them as they trust me to do so. Whether it has been as a region representative, vice president, or now president, I am dedicated to serving the organization and its members as best I can. As an organization, we are great collaborators and I value the organizations that we are developing collaborative relationships with to broaden our discussions and create positive impact.
DYOJO: As the president of a not for profit organization, what is your vision for your term?
Marina: Our 2020 conference theme really reflects my vision, "Leading by action and example" which is a concept that I believe in. The best quote I've seen that sums it up says that "Leadership is not a position or title. It is action and example." I believe that.
DYOJO: What do you believe are some of the keys to implementing your vision and seeing it executed to the best of your ability?
Marina: My goals for this year are to develop a vision statement, which we just recently accomplished with input from members and the board in a collaborative fashion. Next we will conduct a SWOT analysis and use the information generated to develop a new strategic plan so that we can carry out our mission, as reflected in our vision statement. Key to this work is communication and trust. I believe we have good communication in our organization and that the necessary trust relationship is developing as well.
DYOJO: We have discussed what it looks like to promote leadership development for and amongst your peers, what are some of the keys to doing this when your group is spread out?
Marina: WAMOA has it down! Our regions focus on local issues and provide good content at our regional monthly meetings. We invest in and work hard to provide the best keynote and leadership seminar speakers that we can find. Our conference committee works hard to put together a strong slate of workshops at our annual conference to meet the needs of all our members. The balance between the regional meetings and the leadership seminar and conference seems to really work for us.
DYOJO: For your own personal/professional development what have been some books, events and other resources that encouraged you in 2019, what did you draw from them?
Marina: 2019 was a HUGE year for me. I accomplished a lifelong dream and obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management finally. The course content was so relevant in both my professional and WAMOA life.
DYOJO: Congrats on completing your Bachelor’s, I know how good that feels as I recently completed mine as well. What are a few professional development components that you are looking forward to in 2020?
Marina: I've also been so motivated and inspired by some of our past leadership speakers. Brad Worthley, Phil Van Hooser and others inspire me constantly with their newsletters and blog posts that I continue to follow. I'm looking forward to hearing Denise Ryan in March. And it might be time for me to start pursuing my project management certification. That may be a new challenge that I set for myself!
I discovered WAMOA when we moved to Washington, as I had previously been involved with a similar group in Oregon called OSFMA (Oregon School Facilities Management Association). WAMOA does a great job of providing monthly regional meetings for local networking. There is a Spring Leadership Seminar in beautiful Leavenworth and a Fall Conference in the Valley of Hops, Yakima. If you work in education, facilities, operations, custodial, managing union labor or provide services that would be of value to these professionals, WAMOA will be of value to your development goals in 2020 and beyond.
Achieve more by reducing your priorities rather than adding to your pressures.
Whether it’s the beginning of the year or any date thereafter, the demands of life weigh heavy on those who maintain a hunger for personal and professional growth. Life often feels like a mountain we are ill equipped to summit. The path of the status quo leads to lofty goals set at the dawn of the new year, most of which quickly fade into the necropolis of to-do lists gone un-done. Though it seems counter intuitive, if you want to carry your goals over the peak, you should start by reducing the weight of your load.
Prioritization helps you to embrace your identity and live your purpose. Reducing your load starts with weeding through the internal and external pressures to focus on what is important to you. When you harness this simple truth you realize it is better to have a few things that are completely done rather than several items that are only partially done. Going over the mountain starts with preparation and then taking those first steps up the mountain. Reduce in order to produce.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease.
Reduce your Pressures.
You should be intentional about giving yourself some credit from time to time. Remember, you have a purpose, a job, family, commitments, side hustles, hobbies and you need time to sleep. Take a moment to appreciate what you have accomplished and where you have traveled in your journey. It’s ok to give yourself a compliment.
As you climb towards your goals, build into your development process time for reflection and gratitude. Bill Carmody, founder and CEO of Trepoint, encourages growth minded professionals, “So much of what we do in our business is driven (or limited) by our psychology. Celebrating your wins not only feels great physically, but it reinforces the behavior you want to show up when you face a new challenge or opportunity.”
"Consider what you might accomplish if you stopped
Reinforce positive behavior as you face challenges. This is enhanced by surrounding yourself with positive influences. This should not be confused for surrounding yourself with people who will tell you what you want to hear and will allow you to underperform on your potential. There is a fine line between those who will, “Tell you like it is,” but have no functional input to help you evolve and those who will encourage, as well as correct, as they walk alongside you.
Resources such as social media can both be distracting from your efforts to reach your goals as well as create a false sense of achievement. Don’t fall prey to the allure of attention (external adulation) and achievement (internal satisfaction). Srinivas Rao challenges us to consider, “What you might accomplish if you stopped confusing attention with accomplishment.” Rather than sharing about what you plan to do in order to receive some fleeting praise, celebrate your victories (large and small) with those who are directly involved in your ascent.
Build sustainable habits that will aid you in achieving your goals:
Reduce your Priorities.
Climbing a mountain requires preparation, dedication and endurance. You have limited time and you have to be realistic with what you can pursue and invest in. Whittle down your priorities to the core things that matter to you. Your priorities will change as you unfold your personal and professional development. If everything is important then nothing is. Be intentional by reducing your list of priorities to items that you can gain momentum and achieve.
Focus is the key to harnessing your ability to achieve. If you want to achieve your goals you must transfer your ideas (what is in your head) into habits (action) as this is the most effective way to develop sustained positive changes. Your neural messengers that facilitate goals being transformed into habit are called endocannabinoids. Dr. Ralph Ryback, writing for Psychology Today, states, “The best way to get your endocannabinoids to help you form a habit is by being consistent. Work toward your goal every day, even if you don’t feel like it. You can set aside a specific time each day, or a specific context.”
"The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important
Simple steps for crushing your growth goals:
Reduce your Excuses.
In a letter to his friends in Rome, Paul writes, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.” Often, our minds receive this as though we need to bring ourselves down a notch with an improper understanding of humility. I find it interesting that the author says, “With sober judgement,” which also means an honest evaluation. We shouldn’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought but also we should not think of ourselves more lowly than we ought. Sober judgement means that we have an understanding of our identity and our purpose.
You are capable. You can achieve what you want. Do you want to have a better body, you can do it - you will have to be realistic with what that commitment will require. You know the process includes eating better, getting sleep and a commitment to working out. Personal and professional development is not so much about learning new information but applying what we know to be true. Achieving a better body is often tied to looking like some prototype. When you compare yourself to others it isn’t helpful. Your goals should be specific to you and reaching your potential.
Development is a process of embracing your identity and living your purpose. If you are in a rut, start yourself with some low hanging fruit that will help you get the wheels turning again. Your success will inspire you to reach further. It’s amazing how when you start saving a little money, the momentum of those feelings of small achievements propel you to save more and grow your vision for what is possible. The same is true in any endeavor of change.
Development is a process of embracing your identity and living your purpose.
Reduce your excuses to produce better results:
The Year of Reduction.
What would happen if you and I declare this The Year of Reduction - Reduce to Produce?
So much of what screams at you and me for attention challenges us to do this or that and only adds to the weight we carry. By shedding some of the unnecessary weight you can focus on what matters to you and make progress in your process. Embrace your identity, be who you are.
Live your purpose, be all that you were designed to be. What will you do today to reduce your pressures, reduce your priorities and reduce your excuses so that you can climb your mountain with less resistance?
Resolve within yourself to Reduce so that you can Produce.
Stop asking dumb questions and start doing leadership things.
Step one to being a better leader.
While there are those in history that transcend the moments of their time and thereby stand out in our distinctions of strong leadership. Leadership is a daily practice. There are no leaders, only people in a position of leadership. No leader arrives without their own journey of trial, failure and growth. You are a leader, you must be intentional to develop your leadership. Leadership is often placed on a standard that is only approachable by those worthy to wield its magical powers. This is not true.
Two questions to elevate your leadership skills.
The question is not, “Am I a leader?” If it wasn’t clear before, the answer is, “Yes, you are a leader.” The question is not even whether you are a good leader. Good leadership is a subjective measure related to abilities, intention and outcomes. Good leaders had their bad moments and bad leaders have their positive qualities. Yet, this is true of any person in a position of leadership at any level. Leadership categories that impact your everyday life include your-self, your roles, your responsibilities and your example to others. You are a leader in each of these key areas and you must be intentional to develop your abilities.
Everyday leadership categories of significant consequence include:
Making a difference as a leader.
As a leader, if you want to ask an effective question, ask yourself, “Am I on course or off track?” This is important because, in order to answer this basic question, you have to establish some clarity as to what your goals are. If you are clear on your goals, you can develop actions steps and track whether you are consistently moving towards or away from your goal. Questions of substance will require you to look in the mirror and assess measurable results.
The importance of being intentional as a leader.
If you are brave enough to ask yourself whether you are on or off course, you are on your way towards progress in the process. There is one more tough question a person in a position of leadership must ask, especially if your roles and responsibilities have you overseeing a team of people. “Am I on track due to intention or coincidence?” The prototypical leader enjoys receiving praise for success and shirks responsibility for failures. Whether things are going well or they are a dumpster fire, the person in a position of leadership must ask if their outcomes have been the result of being intentional or merely coincidental.
Leadership is a daily process.
You are a leader. You have a responsibility to lead yourself, master your roles, execute your responsibilities and set a positive example for others. If you want to grow as a person and be effective in your leadership, ask yourself whether you are on course or off course. If you are on track to reach your objectives, have you done everything in your power to be intentional with your efforts and empowering those around you to succeed? If you are off track, move towards being intentional by facing the music and set an example of climbing out of your mess. It’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.
Stop asking dumb questions and start doing intentional things. As the process evolves, you will have to adapt, so the development of your leadership skills is never over. If you work through the process of taking ownership of your role as a leader, getting yourself and your team on course and being intentional, it’s not as though the game is over. Repeat daily.
Let us help you build and execute a plan for achieving success in your personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer