Leaders Learning from Leaders: The Best Advice I Ever Received
By Elyse Hammett, vice president of marketing & communications, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
In 2017 I had the pleasure of serving as President of the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Service drives thought about what leadership really means, especially for a nonprofit association that relies on volunteers.
To quote esteemed Harvard Business School professor, Rosabeth Moss Kantor: “Leaders are more powerful role models when they learn than when they teach.” I asked some PRSA colleagues to share the best advice they had ever received. Check out these insights:
“Early in my career, I was unsure if I was paving the right path for myself. I remember my mom telling me that ‘figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as what you do want to do.’ Once she said that, I felt a sense of freedom to try new things and take on different roles, and her advice ultimately fed my desire to constantly learn and be challenged.”
“When I was graduating from college a legendary leader in my field agreed to meet with me and become one of my mentors only after I created a five-year career plan. This exercise was instrumental in helping me chart a course and put a plan on paper to guide my career path decision making. It helped me work on purpose, ward off distractions and stay focused on what mattered most. I use it as a tool today when people ask me to mentor them.”
“It’s about coaching others, executing with excellence and creating impact that endures long after your tenure. That’s what each of the leaders I’ve been influenced by have done. One of my first bosses said, ‘do your job as if you were running your own business.’ That’s something I have always remembered.”
My grandfather was a Methodist preacher who passed on many valuable life lessons, including: “A candle loses no flame by lighting another candle, in fact, it makes the world a brighter place.” In other words, sharing is the key to success.
Working in the nonprofit sector often means taking on duties outside the spectrum of a particular job description. One day you might be leading a major project and the next you’re in a supporting role. Nonprofit volunteers are called upon to do the same. Whether we lead or whether we follow at any particular moment, these words of advice show that we can be on equal footing to give back as well as pay it forward.
You can read more about the individuals behind these life lessons here.