Tag Archives: Leadership

Housley Stars!

9 Nov

2013 Fall Housley Class

Yesterday we wrapped up our fifth offering of the Housley Principled Leadership Program at Texas State University. The thirty students in the class are outstanding examples of the extraordinary young leaders that the Stelos Alliance was created to support. I am very proud of all of them for the commitment they made to themselves and their classmates. It has been a pleasure watching them mature week to week.

These young people know who they are, what they believe, and what makes them come alive. Their comments about the program validate its objectives. Here is what they said during our closing ceremony:

“Housley gave me the confidence to take risks.”

“Housley forced me to specify my mission in life.”

“Housley helped me define my strengths and grow up.”

“Housley clarified my values and caused me to reevaluate everything.”

“Housley changed my life.”

The program is full of high-talent student leaders that are prepared to make their mark on the world. In our final session we discussed the role of service in leadership and our obligations to each other. The students commented on my essay titled, The Debt.  All I can say is, “Look out world.”

I want to especially recognize the four recipients of the Housley scholarships. They are:

Rachel Wilson
Aleecia Head
Meghan Bates
Christian Carlson

Please join me in congratulating them for this recognition. They really are Stelos Super Stars.

In the spring we will continue to offer Housley at Texas State and are expanding the course to both Trinity and Angelo State Universities. You can read about the Trinity course offering here. Please let me know if you are interested in getting involved.

Getting Ahead Virtually

20 Jul

As published in the Daily Muse, July 2013.

http://www.thedailymuse.com/careeradvice/getting-ahead-in-an-office-less-environment/

130714-Succeeding-in-Officeless-Environment-275x275

 

Getting ahead at any company requires a certain amount of strategy. But a company that operates virtually—with no offices, no cubicles, and no in-person meetings? That’s a different game entirely.

As the leader of a global professional services firm that operates in a completely virtual manner, I have dozens of people working without a traditional office environment. Some work from home, others are always on the road, and some prefer the local coffee shop (or bar). But regardless of where they work, there are some things that distinguish the best digital workers from the rest.

If you’re looking to impress in your virtual workplace, follow these five steps to success.

Step 1: Be Available

The most important thing you must do to succeed in this environment is to be available. Since you’re not sitting down the hall from your boss or teammates, you need to keep online communication open. If your co-workers have a hard time reaching you when they need to, it slows down their progress—and the company’s.

Does that mean you’re destined for a life chained to your desk? Not necessarily. I really don’t care where you work: If you can be productive bagging rays by the pool or are able to effectively perform your duties on top of a mountain, that’s great—as long as I can reach you. But just as you wouldn’t slip out of a physical office in the middle of the afternoon without telling anyone, you shouldn’t mysteriously go MIA from the web. If you need to be offline during normal business hours, let your boss, subordinates, or anyone else who may need you know that you’ll be unavailable and when you’ll be back.

Step 2: Be Productive

Once you’ve got the availability down, it’s time to get to work. And I mean, really get to work. Since your boss can’t see that you’re putting in time every day, you don’t get much credit for effort. As a virtual worker, you can only prove you’re working hard by producing results.

Sounds simple, but where I see employees trip up is when they’re struggling with an assignment or when something’s more difficult than it appears. If that’s the case, say something to your manager. He’ll still be able to tell you’re working hard if you ask for help, but if you prolong the task and don’t get it done in a reasonable amount of time, he might just think that you’re taking advantage of the flexibility of working remotely.

Step 3: Set Boundaries

This may seem counterintuitive as a way to impress, but the virtual employees I respect most are the ones who get their work done—but who also establish work-life boundaries. Without an office to leave at the end of the day, it can be easier for your work life to seep into the rest of your life. I, for one, am a huge workaholic, and have no problem reaching out to my employees at odd hours of the night. I can easily fill my employees’ free time with work—but I will also respect whatever boundaries they establish as long as they continue to turn in good work.

It’s unlikely that your boss wants to interrupt your exercise time, your family time, your dog-walking time, or your reality TV time (and if she does, you have bigger issues to deal with). So be clear with her (and yourself!) about what your work-life boundaries are. As long as you’re getting your work done, your boss shouldn’t blink when you tell her, “Not right now—I am watching The Bachelor.” You’ll be a happier employee, and your work will show it.

Step 4: Manage Your Career 

Doing your job well may win you kudos, but it will not ensure that you continue to grow as a professional. After all, working virtually can lead to an “out of sight, out of mind” situation where your steady contributions are taken for granted and no one is pushing you to greater heights.

So, in order to advance your career, you have to be proactive about seeking out more challenging assignments and plotting a development course for yourself. Work hard to find new areas in which you could contribute or high-level projects you could take on, and don’t be shy about sharing with your boss and co-workers what your goals are within the company. If you don’t, you won’t advance.

Step 5: Connect and Lead

Creating culture and camaraderie in an office-less organization is very difficult. So, your company likely needs connectors who pull people together to share experiences and build a collective ethos. And if you can be that person while still getting your work done, it will be a huge testament to your success.

Look for ways to be a leader among your virtual colleagues: Force everyone in your local area to leave their homes once a week and find a place to get together and work. Offer to help on assignments. Swap stories. Counsel one another. Your efforts will not go unnoticed by your colleagues—or your manager.

Succeeding in an office-less environment is difficult. It requires an enormous amount of self-discipline and a commitment to yourself and the company. There is a clear distinction between those who survive in this structure and those who thrive, but follow these steps, and you’ll be climbing up the (virtual) career ladder in no time.

Stelos Scholars

16 May

2013 Stelos Scholars

The Stelos Alliance Awards Banquet was held on Sunday, April 28th in San Marcos. We had about 70 people attend the event where we awarded scholarships to exceptional student leaders from Texas State.

Stelos proudly leads the effort to raise money for a number of annual awards that benefit Texas State students. The scholarships include the Bill Hogue Memorial, John Garrison Leadership Award, Tommy Raffen Memorial, Student Foundation Scholarships, Chi Omega Virginia Moore Scholarship, and the Housley Principled Leadership Awards.

We also began a fellowship program this year. Students selected as Stelos Fellows create a paid, semester-long internship with the Stelos Alliance that is customized to best suit their individual career objectives.

This is the 23rd year that the Bill Hogue Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to a member of the Texas State Student Foundation. The recipient this year is another outstanding student leader, Ryan Gates. Ryan will be graduating with honors this May with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Biochemistry. He currently serves as the Vice President of Administration for Student Foundation and has been a member since 2010. His GPA of 3.89 kept him on the Dean’s List every semester of his college career. His older brother Stephen received the same scholarship two years ago. The Gates do it right.

We recognized another five members of Student Foundation with scholarship awards:

  • Danielle Bonanno graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and starts law school in the fall. She also won a Housley Principled Leadership Award this spring.
  • Nathan McDaniel will be graduating August 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Nathan completed the Housley Principled Leadership Program as a sophomore in 2011.
  • Ashley Brown is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree.
  • Devan Reynolds graduates in May with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree.
  • Terrile Murphy also graduates in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.

The John Garrison Leadership Award recipient is Lindsey Hendrix. Lindsey graduates in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Disorders. She served as the Executive Assistant in the Associated Student Government and was an active member of Student Foundation. She went through the very first edition of the Housley Principled Leadership Program back in 2011.

This is our fourth year to award the Tommy Raffen Memorial Scholarship and this year’s recipient is Andrew Henley. Andrew is graduating in August 2013 with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree. He currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Student Foundation, as well as, Senate Pro Tempore for the Associated Student Government. Andrew is a Housley grad and was a Stelos Fellow this spring.

This year, we were proud to award the Virginia Moore Chi Omega Scholarship for the second time. The recipient of this award is Mindy Green. Mindy is currently majoring in Public Relations at Texas State University. She is an active member of Chi Omega, where she currently serves as the sorority’s Scholarship Chairwoman. Mindy was a star in the Housley Principled Leadership Program this semester.

The Housley Principled Leadership Program continues to grow. We conducted the class in both the fall and spring this academic year and had over 60 Texas State students complete the course. These are amazing students. For the past two years both the President and Vice President of ASG have been through the program; Nathan McDaniel, Alison Sibley, Vanessa Cortez, and Eddie Perez are all graduates, as are a large number of ASG senators. We are proud of all that they are accomplishing during their time on campus.

The following eight student leaders participated in Housley in either the fall or the spring and received scholarship awards for their active participation and contributions to the success of the course:

  • Karli Koerner is currently majoring in Communication Studies at Texas State University. Karli was also a Stelos Fellow this spring doing marketing, event planning and Housley coordination.
  • Adam Odomore is currently majoring in International Relations at Texas State University. He was the only freshman in Housley last fall and is simply an extraordinary young man.
  • Danielle Bonanno graduates this May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. She is also a Student Foundation Scholarship recipient and future Supreme Court justice.
  • Taylor Dorn is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in Geology.
  • Loic Hamilton graduated this past December with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
  • Kameron Fehrmann is currently majoring in Communication Design at Texas State University.
  • Ryan Elliot is currently majoring in International Studies at Texas State University.
  • Jamie Lahiere also graduates in May with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management.

We are extremely proud of these young leaders and are amazed by their character, commitment to service, enthusiasm, and incredible accomplishments.  They will all go on to do great things and make us proud. Please join me in both congratulating and thanking them for all they have done for Texas State.

Roots

22 Sep

“The roots of my raising run deep.” – Merle Haggard

I confess that I am a middle-class white kid from a small town with two parents that are still married and love me very much. This isn’t a great start for an “up by your own bootstraps” kind of life story. I am not my own sculptor. There were – and are – many people heavily invested in shaping the person that I am.

All of this was brought into focus yesterday as we kicked off the fall edition of the Housley Principled Leadership Program. I learn so much from teaching. The first class attempts to increase self-awareness by exploring the familial sources of the most marked characteristics of our personalities. Here are mine.

Extreme Work Ethic – My paternal grandfather was a welder that built many of the buildings that make up the Houston skyline and later in life ran his own shop until he was physically unable. My other grandfather ran the dairy farm where I grew up. Up at 4:00am seven days a week, he set a very visible example of what it means to truly toil. From drilling rigs in high school and full-time graveyard work in college to managing hotels and management consulting, 70 to 80 hour, six-day work weeks have been normal for me for thirty years. A 60-hour week feels like a vacation. If you are not comfortable with that pace, you can thank my grandfathers.

Academic Excellence – At report card time, a “B” has always been completely unacceptable. I received the gift of high academic expectations from my grandmothers. In a highly unusual coincidence for young women in the 1920s and 1930s, both of them went to college and one of them went on to teach alongside my mother for close to thirty years. I know that the fact that I did not follow her to the Rice Institute broke her heart. This probably compels me to study even more. So when my kids accuse me of going all “crazy Asian mom” on them about their grades, they can blame my grandmothers.

Responsibility & Reliability – My father has three boys. As the oldest, I watched him work to provide for us kids very early in his career. He taught me that any job worth doing is worth doing well. He is a stickler and a perfectionist when it comes to follow through. He used the word “half-assed” to describe the results of most of my chores and then invited me to do them over and over until his standards were met. I soon learned to do it right the first time. Accepting responsibility and then reliably delivering on commitments with excellence is a lesson I learned from my dad.

Fun & Adventurous Spirit – With fifteen or so siblings in my grandparent’s generation all centered in the same small town, the family tree had exploded by the time my many cousins and I were coming of age. Family get-togethers often had over 100 people. My mother was a force of love and fun in these events. As a teacher she also had the habit of throwing us all in the station wagon and traveling across the country every summer. The explorer and adventurer in me comes from my mother. The desire to have fun and create meaningful relationships while working hard is the result of the “work hard, play hard” ethos that permeated my early life. Thanks Mom!

We are all products of our raising. Mine included tremendous advantages. There is no such thing as a “self-made man.” The roots of my raising run deep. These examples give me the strength that I need.

Kalypsonian of the Year

10 Sep

I get a lot of email. On rare occasions, I get an email that has a meaningful impact on my life.

Seven years ago a former colleague of mine sent me such an email. It was a short note referring his younger cousin as a potential candidate for our new and growing innovation consulting firm. She didn’t have much to offer in the way of relevant business experience, but my friend assured me that she had a strong character and was willing to work hard to make a difference. We needed help, and she didn’t make much money, so we took a chance and offered her a job.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. Hiring Pamela Soin is not one of them. She joined the team as a smart, inexperienced young lady a couple of years out of college and quickly made herself indispensable. In the intervening years we have traveled the world together, serving clients in exciting cities like Seoul, Sydney, San Diego, Amsterdam and even Appleton, Wisconsin. We have shared a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and more than a few tears.

Watching her grow into an accomplished professional advisor with personal eminence and business stature has been one the great privileges of my career. Some moments in life create indelible memories. My repertoire of stories from a twenty-year career in consulting is pretty large. Pam is the principal actor in many of the best and funniest stories I have in my collection. She is one of the original Kalypso “characters with character”.

The Kalypsonian of the Year award is reserved each year for the team member that embodies the ideals of the Kalypso consultant; that leader behind the leader that demonstrates a healthy lack of respect for hierarchy and positional authority. Pamela Soin believes that innovation combined with action can change the world for the better. She is passionate about what she does and knows how to have fun at work – and after. Most importantly, she genuinely cares about the success of her colleagues and goes to extraordinary lengths to help them. Pam is a true professional and a personal role model for us all.

After seven years I am honored to call her a colleague, a friend, and our 2012 Kalypsonian of the Year.

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