“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He/she does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equality of his/her actions and the integrity of his/her intent. — Douglas MacArthur
I can’t believe I began working at the Hayden Chamber of Commerce eight months ago. There are days it seems like just yesterday and other days it seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve learned that this work I am doing is vital to OUR Chamber and OUR community.
One lesson I’ve learned is no one should have to go it alone.
I admire pioneers, trailblazers and innovators. Many business leaders and owners embody these traits. But being on the front line isn’t easy for the faint of heart and ought to not be something done alone.
I have the joy of working with and alongside some of Hayden’s and Kootenai County’s best business leaders. The best ones know it takes a team and going alone is only a recipe for disaster.
The Hayden Chamber tries to bring these trailblazers together, we give them community, resources and a team that supports their work. I have business owners/leaders that contact the Chamber often with questions both big and small. We connect leaders doing the same thing and experiencing similar challenges together, so their lessons and their work will help benefit others.
To move forward, you must look beyond the now!
Being a leader means dealing with all kinds of craziness. Trust me. Leaders get caught dealing with the things on fire and forget or don’t make time to look at the horizon.
There are plenty of examples of business owners, community leaders and even elected officials who forget to pay attention to where they are going, focusing instead on the most immediate needs. Fighting the fire in front of us is important but as a good firefighter would say, the ones you can’t see can be even more dangerous.
Vision and long-term planning are crucial. The Chamber provides information and resources that serve to help leaders willing to look beyond the right now. Any business or community wanting to survive the long-term should be doing this.
Celebrating accomplishments and success is critical. “Nothing worthwhile in life is easy.” This quote can mean different things to different people but your work, our work isn’t easy, but it is important.
I’ve met many leaders, and fallen victim of this myself, who accomplish a goal and celebrate only by moving on to the next thing. It’s easy to get on the “accomplishment treadmill” focusing too much on the horizon. Pausing to look back at all that has been done is critical to moving forward.
Our Chamber is designed to help in this area. From sharing good news, and events, from members in this newsletter and on Facebook, to highlighting new businesses breaking ground.
A few months ago, I couldn’t imagine the lessons I would have to learn or more importantly, the great leaders who have taught them to me. I often say I have the best job in town.
This work, because of all of you, is very fulfilling. It isn’t easy but I am not alone. I have the best board, employees, volunteers and members a Chamber Executive Director could hope for. We still have a lot of work cut out for us to get back on track, both at the Chamber and as a community, but with your help there is nowhere to go but up.
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I thought this would be a great time to add the "13 Communication Practices of Exceptional Leaders" by Stephanie Reyes who writes for TribeHR, a NetSuite company.
13 Communication Practices of Exceptional Leaders
By Stephanie Reyes
Great leaders are great communicators. They share their vision in a way that inspires others and projects a contagious enthusiasm. But this ability doesn't always come naturally. We've all experienced the pep talk that falls flat: the gung ho "take one for the team" speech that triggers sarcasm instead of motivation. So how do some people stimulate belief, loyalty, and a commitment that defies logic, while others are dismissed and disrespected? With deliberate intent and lots of practice. Exceptional leaders connect and communicate at a level that few others achieve by consistently following these 13 communication habits. Great leaders strive to:
1) Be personable: They care about their followers and are willing to show it. They get to know their people and connect with them on a personal level. When tensions are high, they take the time to socialize or share some humor and let people de-stress before getting down to business.
2) Gain trust: Keeping promises, telling the truth, and following through are all hallmarks of great leaders. People will forgive many failings if they trust, and nothing if they don't.
3) Tell it like it is: Sugar-coating bad news, covering up mistakes, or understating risks to keep people onside tends to backfire. Leaders give people the straight goods when things go off track and then quickly refocus on moving forward.
4) Avoid ambiguity: Clarity is essential for vision. It's hard to hit a fuzzy target or believe in a confusing message. Leaders are specific, concise, and, above all, clear in communicating their objectives and the principles they embrace.
5) Be open-minded: While their vision is clear and unwavering, great leaders know there are multiple routes to any destination, and they remain receptive to the input of their teams when mapping the way.
6) Listen: When followers feel heard, they stay committed to the vision. Effective leaders commit to being fully present when conversing with their teams. They know people will only follow a leader who reflects their priorities and speaks for them and only a leader who listens can do that.
7) Stay calm: When tempers fray and plans blow up, the best leaders remain calm. Resolute in the face of obstacles and unflappable regardless of external pressures, they lead with a cool composure that inspires confidence.
8) Empathize: Staying calm when things go wrong doesn't mean ignoring the impact that circumstances may have on others. Exceptional leaders are attuned to how their people feel and respond accordingly. They weave their people's emotions, concerns, and perspective into their words. They communicate from the heart and are willing to acknowledge vulnerability rather than protecting their egos at all costs.
9) Set the standard: From the way they dress to the language they use, and how they greet and treat others; in every aspect of their behavior, leaders know they are setting the standard for everyone on their team and across the organization. Leaders know that behavior and presence continue to communicate even when voices are silent, and they make sure to set an example of excellence.
10) Practice perception: Whether we call it a heightened sense of awareness, intuition, emotional intelligence, or just great radar, the best leaders are adept at reading between the lines and hearing what's going on behind the words. When this skill is well-honed, it can make leaders seem prescient as they anticipate and respond to challenges before they become apparent to others.
11) Be a thought leader: People expect leaders to be a source of knowledge and information and to help them grow. Bringing new information to their teams and challenging them with thought-provoking questions helps leaders foster the conceptual thinking and creativity they need to stay ahead of the curve.
12) Appreciate: It may seem old-fashioned but making a habit of saying "please" and "thank you," and publicly recognizing the input of team members, does wonders for a leader's credibility and reinforces trust. Exceptional leaders seize every opportunity to appreciate.
13) Be congruent: Leaders are always being watched by their followers, by competitors, and by the broader marketplace. When their words and actions don't match, disillusionment soon follows. Great leaders make principle-based decisions and consciously embody their values in everything they do.
When people work with someone who exemplifies these practices every day, they instinctively recognize a strong leader, and they step up and follow.
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Last month, we were busy with a few ribbon cuttings for our newest members. Doterra Wellness Advocates — J. and Pancho Edler, Senior Helpers — Ginny Easterly, and Cruise Planners — Leanne and Mike Delaney. Help us welcome them to the Hayden Chamber.
Chad Ingle, program manager — Kootenai County Public Transportation was our guest speaker for the July networking breakfast. He spoke about the new mobility app that the transportation department is implementing through the bus system. Global Credit Union was our Breakfast Host Sponsor.
We also enjoyed our walk participating in the Hayden Days Parade, passing out candy to all the smiling faces!
If you would like to be an exhibitor for our Connecting Community & Business Expo Fair, on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the Silver Lake Mall, please contact Andrea Fulks at the Hayden Chamber for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 208-762-1185.
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Andrea Fulks is the executive director for the Hayden Chamber of Commerce.