Name: Anne Smith
Business Title: Communications Director
Company/Organization: Lakeside Foods
Favorite Musician: Hmmm, I have no idea.
Favorite Vacation: Ireland – the land of my ancestors. Visited the small cemetery where relatives of my great-great grandfather were buried and met relatives including a 90-year-old woman who shared my name.
Favorite Restaurant: Lino’s in Sheboygan, because of the personal attention the owner gives his guests.
BILL MARKLEIN: What is in the DNA of a servant leader?
SMITH: A servant leader is someone who leads by example, who believes in his or her employees more than they may sometimes believe in themselves, who challenges them to grow personally and professionally, and who places making a positive difference in the world as his or her highest priority.
BILL MARKLEIN: What has been the most important factor(s) in your leadership development journey?
SMITH: Learning that being a leader is a process, not a destination. When I first was named a manager, I thought that made me a leader, but it doesn’t. You lead others not by a title or an org chart box, but by inspiring and motivating them to focus on larger goal and to not get paralyzed by the inevitable challenges that will arise, like budget cuts or a difficult co-worker or what didn’t work in the past, but to focus on the bigger mission -- serving your customers whoever they are, helping your organization achieve its true purpose of existence. For me, growth has come when I’ve had great mentors but also when I’ve worked for others who I felt negatively impacted my ability to contribute my best to the organization. It helped challenge me to acknowledge my own limitations and helped inspire me to want to manage my own personal interactions differently.
BILL MARKLEIN: How does Emotional Intelligence, the awareness and management of your own emotions and the emotions of others, play a role in your leadership?
SMITH: Frankly, emotional intelligence is something I work on all the time. I’m by nature a passionate, emotive person, and I have to consider the ramifications of expressing them in the moment! Especially when you are an influencer in an organization, even if you don’t have a big team of direct reports, it’s important to remember that your emotions can positively or negatively affect those around you. Also, it’s easy to forget, but you have to meet people where they are. And that means where they are personally, so when I lead meetings I have to remind myself to allow time for relationship-building before jumping into the business topics we need to address. I’m the type of individual who wants to take action, to get things done, and I have to remember that others may be very different motivations. It has taken me awhile to learn that I’m a very driven person, and not everyone else is, and that’s OK!
BILL MARKLEIN: Who has made the most positive impact on your life and what is this individual’s attributes?
SMITH: When I first became a manager myself, I was blessed to have a boss who was a true servant leader, though he wouldn’t have described himself as such. He always encouraged me because he was confident in me, he provided feedback in such a way that it was obvious he was sharing it to help me be the best that I could be. I knew that he always had my back, and while he encouraged me to solve challenges on my own, he would provide guidance and when needed, step in to provide support. By his own example, he taught the importance of work-life balance. Today I use many of his management techniques and philosophies. One of which is that when trying to effect change, you have to bring people along with you. Even if you have the vision of where you want to go, you often have to slow down to allow others to embrace the vision in order to secure their commitment to the process. He also always remembered it was important to enjoy what you do. He said, “If you enjoy your work at least 50 percent of the time, stay where you are. If you don’t, it’s time to look for something new.” I saw him take his own advice after our company was acquired and he got reported up through a new leadership structure.