Developing Effective Leadership Skills
Student Stories: Jonathan Bailey, BS ’98, MS ‘13
Jon credits Quinnipiac University’s MS in Organizational Leadership program for accelerating his career by teaching him how to be a more effective leader.
Bobcat pride fills his office where he has counseled prospective students for the last ten years. His framed diplomas proudly display his BS and MSOL degrees next to several recognition plaques earned for various leadership roles at Quinnipiac. As Jon progressed through the MS in Organizational Leadership program, he applied characteristics of leading effectively that he learned in his courses.
Jon has learned that a supportive work environment leads to a happy and more productive team. He allows his team to be themselves, ensures an open dialogue among his peers, welcomes new ideas and offers support to his team members. Like a true team, each member works together towards a common goal and treats each other with respect. Although many of these traits are already present in people, cultivating a deep understanding of how to effectively lead can be found within the MS in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) coursework, discussion boards and group assignments. All of these helped Jon develop these characteristics with confidence.
The MSOL program encourages personal and professional growth by challenging students to increase their effective leadership skills through experience. For some, group dynamics can be difficult to navigate at first. Although, they soon discover the practical use of this exercise and begin to apply it at work. “Working in a group forces you to trust others to complete their portion of the project – and have it be good! That was a difficult and necessary lesson for me to learn,” Jon shares. He goes on to say, “The time I spent learning from the group projects in the OL program led to a better understanding of how to draw out each team member’s talents. It has been very rewarding for me.”
The ability to effectively evaluate individual and team performance is another essential part of leading a team to success. Jon states, “It’s about analyzing numbers, evaluating where short-falls may be and finding a solution. This exercise encourages us to evaluate what we do and how we can make adjustments.” Jon adds, “When we work together, we foster creativity to find solutions and build on each other’s strengths.” Productivity increases when the team is a cohesive unit that can depend on each other. Jon’s team-first approach has been seen throughout his tenure at the University.
Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, ethics and other advanced soft skills are just as important as hard skills. The organizational leadership program has taught Jon that you don’t have to be the loudest one in the room to have command of it. Jon says, “I think that when we have empathy, when we really listen to each other, we promote a healthy and productive work environment. A successful leader is one who practices these characteristics. I strive to be my best every day, learning from the day before. The organizational leadership program showed me how to lead effectively.”
Jon says, “I want people to like to come to work; so, creating a space that encourages conversation helps people stay connected, feel inspired and be heard. I feel this is an important aspect of being part of a team.” In order to lead this way, Jon admits that he has to take a step back periodically, evaluate his own leadership decisions, and make adjustments where necessary. Throughout the program, many students, like Jon, begin to see their own growth as a leader come to fruition within the workplace and use their experiences in the program as a foundation to continue their growth as a leader.
Q & A
How has the organizational leadership program influenced your professional career?
As a manager, I want my team to like to come to work. I have been in sales my entire life, and I believe that liking where you work, having fun and being competitive lends itself to a productive working environment. Along with communicating effectively, I learned through emotional intelligence courses, that having empathy for others creates a better working environment. I try to influence my team using the valuable leadership skills I learned in the online organizational leadership program.
What strategic leadership strategies have you implemented in your job?
I would like to look at this from two viewpoints.
Implementation of performance-based metrics to drive individual performance that will ultimately lead to organizational goals. It is imperative that my team is aware of where they are, in order to create performance strategies to assist them in where they need to go.
Any strategy implemented must support and strengthen the culture within an organization. That is sometimes challenging in a sales environment. Trying to create a competitive culture, while supporting overall team growth, is extremely important and challenging. You can achieve this by sharing strategies and successes with the team. Open door policies are vital to create a healthy competitive team environment.
What comes to mind when you think of someone who has characteristics of an effective leader?
Lead by example. It is that simple. How can I motivate my team if I fall short? A leader must show passion and commitment to success in order for my team to be inspired. I must put my team first and put them in situations where they will be successful. Celebrate their wins and engage when they struggle.
How did the group work in the MSOL program prepare you for your current role as Associate Director of Admissions?
In this program, you work with a diverse group of people from different industries and experiences. Coming to a consensus when planning a group project and then supporting the vision, even if you do not agree, was a difficult but necessary lesson. It is something that I take to my job.
Before I communicate with my team, I take a minute to make sure what I am e-mailing or saying supports the organizations mission/vision. As a team leader, your actions must support the organization’s vision, even if you may disagree with certain strategies and implementations.
Why do you think a team-first mentality is an important characteristic of an effective leader?
I will only achieve success as a team leader if my team achieves success. By putting my team first, I earn their trust and support. This has a direct impact on the culture within the organization.
If you are interested in learning how to enhance your leadership skills, learn more about how Quinnipiac University’s online MS in Organizational Leadership can help you fulfill your goals.