3 Lessons: Rachel Tristano on Change Management
Rachel Tristano, director of Chapter and Regional Programs of the Council of Residential Specialists, has learned leadership on the fly.
Don’t be afraid to dive in: I started my career in a coordinator position, but soon I was running teams with people at all different levels. I had senior managers on my teams, which forced me to lead people who intimidated me. But having a desire to succeed no matter what gave me the courage to speak up. I started doing training back then, never knowing that now, probably 80 percent of my job is training.
Embrace the critics: Early on, there were a few times where I didn’t treat somebody as respectfully as I should have. I’ve come to learn that a difficult person can inspire thinking in groups that isn’t always there without them. My initial reaction was more disdainful: “You’re causing trouble again?” That was a negative, defensive reaction. Now it’s more, “Let’s take a look at your viewpoint. Why are you feeling like this?” I think I’ve benefited from them enough where I can look back and say, “That person can help me be more innovative.”
Different groups demand different leadership: With leadership styles, I’m kind of a chameleon because of my volunteer base. With some of them you can be laissez-faire because they’ll be motivated internally. With others, I have to be the charismatic cheerleader. I have tendencies to be a certain type of leader, but I’ve watched myself adjust as I work with groups and adapt my style to them.
(Photo by Todd Winters)