Barbara Long, CAE, the senior director of governance and executive affairs for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Washington, DC, keeps it real and welcomes a challenge.
Have a vision for yourself. Embrace your unique leadership style. Bring the core of who you are—your integrity and character—to the leadership table, because authentic leadership resonates with others. Where you began your career doesn’t have to determine where you end your career. Many of us began in positions vastly different than where we are now. There are some people who will only ever see you in that earlier role. You have to see yourself in that next role.
Heed the lessons. Take care of you first—mentally, physically, and spiritually. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be open to and seek feedback from others. Be willing to step outside the proverbial box on a regular basis. Commit annually to having at least one stretch goal that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Remember that trying and failing beats indecision and stagnation every time. Have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and best practices.
Lead by example. Leadership requires the ability to practice selflessness. You have to ask yourself regularly, “Am I giving my best? Is there more I can do? Is there something I need to do differently? How can I share what I’ve learned with others?” There are endless opportunities to give back, whether it be through coaching, mentoring, or teaching. There’s someone watching you on your journey. Let them see you give more than you take.