Tag Archives: Leadership

Our Under 40’s: Our Community’s Next Leaders.

Almost two years ago, The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce launched its young professional program hYPe: Helping Young Professionals Excel. From its inaugural 2011 event where 125+ young people under the age of 40 attended, to the group of hYPe members who volunteered at last month’s Taste of Bloomington, this has been and is an organization about involvement. Each month hYPe members attend personal or professional development events where they learn new skills and make new connections with peers. As important, the programming of hYPE helps to create a support structure that builds leaders. Always, these young professionals are involved in the learning process – becoming better employees, stronger leaders and forging stronger bonds within their community.

This was exactly the hope when hYPe was launched.

The Chamber‘s Board of Directors recognized the importance of engaging our next generation of leaders to help generate a greater pipeline for talent within our community. To underscore their commitment to hYPe and its mission, the Board’s nominating committee selected the hYPe Steering Committee Chair – Faye Jameson, to serve on the Chamber’s board of directors. For a young professional to play an active role on a board filled by some of the community’s strongest leaders is an incredible opportunity. But, the opportunity to have a “fresh voice” of a young leader on the Chamber Board is equally as important.

You get a very different voice at a table – whether it’s in the boardroom or as part of your leadership team – when there is someone under 40. So many believe that our under 40’s only bring an understanding of technology since most all have grown up in a world where apps, social networks and smart phones are the Millennial generation’s versions of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. But, this limited thinking is…well, limited. Our under 40’s bring so much more.

A young professional’s fresh perspective, insight as to what resonates with their age group, willingness to try new ideas and out-of the-box thinking can benefit any organization or any board. Our world is changing at a rapid rate and our young professionals are skilled at navigating a rapidly changing world. These are individuals you want to have at the proverbial “table”.

According to one study, less than 2% of nonprofit board members are under 30 years old. In contrast, 57% of nonprofit board members are 50 and over. All they need is a chance to utilize their skills…But first, they need to be asked. I encourage businesses and organizations in our community to look for ways to engage our young professionals in meaningful professional relationships through board service, volunteer task force or committees.

Not certain how to make it happen?

  • The first step is to identify and remove any barriers to engaging young leaders. Sometimes this means you have to “break the mold” of what you usually look for from a person when filling these positions.
  • If you know and can articulate the value they will bring to your organization, you’re half way there.
  • Provide your young professionals with proper expectations and allow them to feel comfortable within your organization.
  • Finally, make a commitment to always find room for a young professional to “be at your table.” They have been reared in a world of constant communication and collaboration, so be prepared for the energy and ideas that can be unleashed.

On July 26, The Chamber and our hYPe program will host the “10 Under 40” Awards at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center. If you want to see, first-hand, the amazing young talent and leadership we have in our community, please join us. For more information about hYPe or the “10 Under 40” Awards, please visit www.ChamberBloomington.org or www.hYPeBloomington.org.

Why Criticism is Always Constructive

Criticism is a necessary evil—hard to accept, but ultimately beneficial. The true problem with critical comments stems from the motivation that lies behind them, and this issue often manifests in the delivery of the remarks. Competition in the workplace can significantly contribute to negative feelings between co-workers and give rise to critical attacks. The most successful leaders are those who can hear the unkind words, determine what can be learned from them, and continue to move forward without letting emotions cloud their judgment or affect their performance. A positive spin can be put on even some of the most hurtful statements. These instances should always be treated as learning experiences. You’re learning something, no matter if it’s merely to guard yourself from the verbal attacks of particular peers or if it’s to better proofread the emails you send out.

Keep these tactics in mind when scathing remarks are thrown your way:

1.    Don’t overreact. Try to remain calm, and remember to control your anger. Fighting back will only worsen the already unfortunate situation. Any unprofessional responses should be saved for an appropriate time or place, behind closed doors. Don’t forget that there is no room for a personal problem in a professional environment.

2.    Seek an impartial opinion. Confide in a close friend or loved one who is far removed from the situation. You may find difficulty in determining what you can learn from a particular encounter because of your emotional investment. An unbiased confidant will be willing and able to pick out the potential positive aspects and offer advice on how to proceed.

3.    Remain focused on your ultimate goal. Remember that you and your peers are working for the same company. Your short-term initiatives should be complementary, and your long-term objectives should be highly similar, if not exactly the same. Personal conflicts must always be put aside, not only for the betterment of the company, but also for the advancement of your career.

4.    Keep a positive attitude. You’re learning. You’re moving forward. You’re succeeding. These are all good things. Don’t let a string of negative remarks distract you from your work. If your critics see that their words can’t affect you, the verbal attacks will lose their appeal.

5.    Evaluate yourself. Be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses. Capitalize on the assets, and work diligently to minimize the shortcomings. If you’re already conscious of your faults, statements of criticism will have a much lesser impact.

While it’s important to shield yourself from the negative effects of criticism, you must remain open to the learning experiences such an opportunity may present. Even though the disapproval may prove difficult to accept, the benefits that can ultimately be gained will be long-lasting and significant.

Adapted from “How to Deal With Really Tough Criticism: Five Steps,” Christine M. Riordan, Forbes.com

Do Introverts Make the Best Leaders?

I have a friend that has moved quickly up the ranks of a major corporation. Despite his somewhat speedy transition to jobs with increasing responsibility, back-to-back performance reviews that hit the far exceed mark, and stellar leadership reviews from his team and customers, some of his “mentors” continue to advise him to “speak up more”. Despite a 20-year track record of successful results, my friend continues to receive this feedback which he continues to find confusing.

Okay.  It’s no secret my friend is a bit of an introvert. He doesn’t feel compelled to fill silence with small talk just to hear himself speak. Nor is he a pseudo-intellectual who wants to dazzle you with his brilliance by spouting off facts and data he memorized. He’s just a very intelligent man with a wealth of knowledge and experience that is cushioned by a strong work ethic and a warm personality. He treats people the way he wants to be treated, and understands the importance of feedback…whether it’s positive or about an area that can be improved upon.

So does this make him less than a leader?

Having been a product of the corporate world for more than 24 years, I remember all too well the colleagues with the big titles who sat at the executive table and raised their voices (loudly) to make a point. Sometimes a fist would bang or a door would be slammed as they stormed out of meetings. Often a caustic remark was interjected as the decibels increased.

I’ll give you, that kind of behavior doesn’t speak well of the corporate culture, but these were the individuals identified as the leaders or high performers. That aside:

Did this make the individual a better leader? Did they get the results they wanted? Did it help the organization move forward or enable a team member to innovate or achieve on their own? I can confidently say, “No. It did not.”

I thought of my friend, and others I have met along the way, who fall under “the curse” of being on the quiet side as I read this article. I thought I would share so that we’re all reminded that sometimes introverts make the best leaders:

There’s good reason why 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts. From broker Charles Schwab to Avon chief Andrea Jung, “innies” possess these traits of quiet leadership:

1. They think first. Even in casual conversation, leaders learn by listening. They realize that their authority alone makes them visible, so they use their calm demeanors to make a statement. Just one thoughtful comment in a meeting can move a group forward.

2. They run deep. Leaders delve into ideas. Deborah Dunsire, a physician and president of a biopharmaceutical company, schedules walk-around time. “I would say, ‘Hey, what is keeping you up at night? What are you working on? Where can we improve?’

3. They exude calm. Because they are low-key, introverted leaders project reassurance and confidence in times of crisis. One executive tells himself before networking events, “I can do anything for 30 minutes.”

4. They write it down. Comfort with the written word helps leaders explain the reasons for their actions and also documents those actions.

5. They enjoy solitude. Introverts recharge by spending time alone. Regular time-outs fuel their creativity and decision-making. During high=pressure periods, this helps them stay reflective, not reactive.

Martin Schmidler, VP at a food service company, tells his people he needs time to absorb what he learns, and he is clear on how and when he’ll get back to them. He consistently follows through.

- Adapted from “Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders,” Jennifer Kahnweiler, Forbes.com.

Back to Basics: How Your Leadership Style Can Fit Any Team

The following is a guest blog from Tim Tucker, a Chamber member and franchise owner of Express Employment Professionals. All of the views and opinions expressed in this post are solely Tim Tucker’s and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. To submit a guest blog e-mail DeJohn Rose for more information.

Employees often have similar objectives: career growth, fulfillment, getting the job done. But achieving optimal results in a way that’s agreeable to everyone can be a major challenge. Goals may align, but their successful completion is partially determined by the day-to-day interactions that form individual leadership styles.

What makes a leader?

You’ve heard the saying that leaders are born, not made, but that’s only partially true. Integrity and intuition may be inherent, but people skills are sharpened through experience.

Establishing trust, resolving conflict, and being an effective listener are just a few of the many traits that can be developed through time and teambuilding. While some people’s skill sets are simply better suited for dealing with certain challenges, being able to handle diverse situations and personalities is part of most job descriptions.

Identifying your leadership style and understanding its strengths and weaknesses can help you decide what’s working and what needs improvement.

What’s your leadership style?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identifies three common styles: authoritarian, democratic, delegative. Beyond employee productivity, these varied approaches affect workplace ambience and morale.


Strengths: Organization is the main skill of the authoritarian leader. His or her priorities are clear and employees are fully informed of expectations. These leaders work best with passive co-workers.

Weaknesses: Authoritarian leaders can be seen as micromanagers instead of team players. Neglecting to seek feedback and collaborate in a personable way can isolate peers and conflict tends to arise with differing opinions.


Strengths: Communication and creativity are this leader’s strengths. The democratic leader wants to hear others’ perspectives and welcomes a variety of solutions. Their sense of priority allows them to focus on the details without losing sight of the main objective.

Weaknesses: Decision-making is sometimes problematic for the democratic leader. Too many viewpoints, heightened by a desire to please all parties, can complicate the process. Impartiality may also waiver as the employee becomes more emotionally connected to individual co-workers.


Strengths: Delegative leaders instill confidence by allowing others to manage their respective tasks with minimal input. Their leniency allows for creativity and work best with those that are highly motivated.

Weaknesses: Priorities sometimes seem unclear to others, as the delegative leader is often more focused on the big picture than the details of how to accomplish it. The tendency to shirk from responsibility sometimes gives co-workers the impression that they are “on their own.” Delegative leaders can seem disengaged, which contributes to a sense of chaos.

Back to basics

Managing employees is a process unique to every organization and its corporate culture, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Be flexible: Capitalize on your strengths, but be aware of others’ needs. Although you should strive to be consistent, tailor your approach in response to each employee and his or her personality.
  • Focus on the person, not the issue: Respect is the foundation of every great relationship. No matter what your management style, basic civility is always imperative. Remember that every employee is a human who deserves your respect; you are working with someone’s wife, father, daughter, or friend.
  • Find out what motivates your co-workers: Show genuine interest. Find out what they’re seeking in their current position and do what you can to facilitate their goals, whether you’re a supervisor or a peer.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership style will help your team achieve optimal results. True leaders recognize that communication is a two-way street. Seek dialogue with the people around you to find out what’s working and what you can improve. Ask for pointers from a mentor and accept that all change takes time. Work on issues gradually to become the leader your team trusts.