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Leadership 101

Career counselor knows what it takes

Amy Altieri ’13 graduated from Cal U with a master’s degree in education. She is a leadership expert with five years of experience in global talent management for DDI, which helps companies with strategy, selection, development and succession management.

She began her professional career in corporate communications before being presented with an opportunity to take on a new, very different, role in sales.

“My leader gave me good advice: ‘Get out of your comfort zone, try something new, lead, and GROW!’” Altieri says.

Recently, she launched her own business, The Auxano Company, which provides individual career coaching, resume reviews, leadership development and career transition strategies.

Altieri provides some Leadership 101 thoughts and advice on cultivating such an important skill.

Q: Are great leaders “born that way,” or can people develop into great leaders?

A: Some people have a desire to lead from an early age, while others prefer — or it’s more natural for them — to take a passive role and follow. This is likely the outcome of factors from earlier in life, such as birth order, opportunities, experiences and personal motivators.

I’ve worked with “born leaders” and “rising leaders.” People can be developed into leaders if they’re open to it. Having the opportunity, and then recognizing and developing essential leadership skills, are keys for success.

The good news is that companies and teams need both — leaders and followers.

Q: What makes a leader successful?

A: Two things I immediately think of are knowing who you are as a leader and being open to feedback. Besides being a student of leadership, it’s important to self-discover. Teams are most successful when they encounter a consistent experience with their leader.

Leaders need to know the message of their personal brand, just as they would know the brand message for their product or company. One exercise for leaders is to craft a leadership brand statement. Knowing who you are as a leader and living out your brand builds trust with the team, as does asking members for feedback.

Q: What is one key step when transitioning to a leadership role?

A: A new leader must first be a good student by studying leaders in their life and in history to identify their good and bad characteristics. Reading leadership books and case studies is also helpful. Application of these lessons is key, because navigating the new territory of leadership is complex.

Assuming a leadership role is one of life’s most challenging adjustments. The most successful leaders I’ve worked with have approached the transition with humility and curiosity.

Q: How can our Cal U students develop as leaders?

A: Leadership is not about a title or position. It’s about bringing out the best in others so they can deliver results for the team or company. There are opportunities to lead every day.

Many employers seek top talent with leadership potential. These skills can begin being developed through experiential learning such as internships, volunteer work and leadership roles within a club or organization.

By Wendy Mackall, assistant communications director at Cal U

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