Three tips for developing strong leaders
Emily Roehrick is a VP/Manager in Consumer Card Underwriting. In 2019, Emily was honored with a UMB Leadership Award for actively developing associates into strong leaders. Emily shared with us the importance of taking risks, building trust and following through to develop team members who were previously peers.
Why leaders should develop others
I’ve been fortunate in my 14 years at UMB to be exposed to successful leaders who each have very different styles. All of them have played a role in my development in some way. The personal interest leaders have taken in my development made me realize my own role as a leader: developing others. This applies not only to those on my team, but others I’ve worked with in some way and who have approached me for advice. I’ve had leaders who have given me opportunities based on strengths they saw in me that I wasn’t aware of. The great thing about UMB is our leadership’s willingness to invest in associate development and retaining talent. I think development is a very important part of UMB, and it’s why I try to pay it forward to others who work here. One of the reasons why I’m very passionate—one of my favorite parts of my job as a leader—is giving others the opportunities that I’ve been given.
For example, one of my previous managers once approached me soon after joining our team and said, “I may not know as much as you about this division, but what can I do to make things better for you?” It meant a lot to me that my manager put my development over a sense of ego and empowered me to do my best.
Emily’s three tips
- Take risks. Getting out of your comfort zone is a big part of development. I had a unique challenge [as a manager] because I was leading a team of people who had once been my peers. Becoming a manager to people you’re already close to creates a different dynamic you must shift into. It took getting out of my comfort zone to be okay with that. One individual on my team expressed an interest in data analytics, so I looked for opportunities to give him some stretch projects where he could learn and gain some valuable experiences. I’ve given stretch assignments to people who thought, “That’s what I want to do,” and then they do it, and think, “Maybe I don’t want to do that.” I encourage them to put themselves out there and give things a try, and I give them opportunities to reroute themselves in different directions.
- Build trust. I want my team to tell me what they need to be successful. Of course, I will also tell them what I need from them, but at the end of the day, I want my team to be fully engaged and enjoy working here. We have regularly scheduled one-on-ones every month, but associates are in and out of my office on the daily. We’re always interacting. Trust is a two-way street. Just as I must get outside of my comfort zone by delivering feedback, I want my team to feel comfortable giving me feedback. Giving your manager feedback on how they’re doing is not always comfortable for people. It takes a little bit of time, but the main thing is not getting offended. I think once associates give me feedback and realize it’s okay, they feel good and I can implement what they’ve told me. It’s one thing to listen, but if you don’t act on it, then you don’t build trust. They’ll think, “I tell her something, but she doesn’t do anything about it, so I’m going to stop telling her things.” I don’t want that to happen.
- Play to your team’s strengths. Nothing is more defeating to somebody than being put into a project in which they struggle because it’s not really where their talent is. Get to know the talent on your team, which includes identifying strengths and what each person brings to the table, as well as using them to their full potential. This understanding comes through conversation, little test assignments and observations of performance. Accept the fact that people might not do well in some areas and be ready to offer support when that happens.
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