Lead by Example

by Donna McBride, Councilwoman, City of Casa Grande; Program Administrator, Pinal County Juvenile Court

Leadership. It seems to be a topic that everyone has an opinion about.

I was honored recently to be named Supervisor of the Year for Pinal County Juvenile Court. My nomination was sent on to the Arizona Supreme Court, and I received the state title as well.

Amazing. Humbling. But why me?

To be nominated by my staff and my department is an honor I will always treasure. Honestly, I don’t feel I did anything special. I just treat people the way I want to be treated. It got me to thinking about what I’ve learned from good, and bad, leadership.

My foundation for leadership is simple: Communication, commitment, and confidence.

Those who invest time and energy into delivering clear lines of communication will rapidly build trust among their team, leading to better productivity and morale. Supervisors committed to their work mean they are committed to their staff. Their team is more likely to be happy and productive. They take ownership of their own work and are ambassadors for their organization.

Self-confidence doesn’t mean a leader is conceited. It means they trust themselves. They have a sense of control, knowing their own strengths and weakness. Good leaders have to set realistic expectations and goals, communicate assertively and can handle criticism.

What about those who portray poor leadership? Over the years I have watched and quite frankly, those with poor leadership qualities have taught me how “not to lead.”

People want to work with a leader they feel understands them; one who listens. If someone makes a mistake, a leader should have an open mind to see what happened from the employee’s perspective. Poor leaders often rush to judge, which results in high turnover and low productivity.

People cannot be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach. Poor leadership often focuses on weaknesses without looking at strengths. A leader should be ready to learn how to best mentor and communicate with each person.

Whether leading an organization, business, or civic group, one must lead by example. I never expect someone to do what I am not willing to do myself.

I have high expectations of my team. I don’t expect them to follow me, I expect them to walk beside me.