When was the last time you really felt listened to? My guess is it hasn’t been often enough.
Everyone has their own story about how they arrive to where they are in life. I’m always intrigued by that journey and how it hones leadership skills along the way. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a local lady leader who shares her story with us and from it, the tips she offers to leaders.
Lori Lococo and I crossed paths for the first time about a decade ago. We connected due to Toastmasters and have stayed in touch since (thank you social media). Recently, I had the chance to chat with Lori about being elected in 2018 to Niagara Falls City Council and seeking re-election in the upcoming October 2022 municipal election.
It takes a lot to run for public office of any sort. I was curious what prompts a person to want to serve in this capacity, and what makes for a good leader. Lori provides her perspectives and shares her tips below. You can use these insights in your organization and workplace too.
TIP: Leaders listen.
With all the leaders I’ve spoken to and worked with over the years, one trait is common — effective leaders know how to listen. Lori Lococo does this well. She understands that positive change only happens with good communication and a big piece of that, is listening and ensuring that others feel heard.
“Learning that there are many perspective to an issue was an eyeopener”, Lori explains noting that there is often not a right or wrong way, just many different viewpoints. This belief is what inspires Lori to ask, listen, and dig deeper to clearly understand various perspectives of all stakeholders on an issue.
Now, imagine in the workplace, if you ensured that all your project stakeholders had a chance to express their questions or concerns. The more complicated the issue, the more input they would want, right? Doing so takes time for sure. The payoff is in the implementation. Listening increases the chance of eliminating obstacles before they even happen. It increases adoption of programs and decisions.
Leaders know how to listen
TIP: Sharpen your speaking skills … and use them to serve.
Lori Lococo and I go back a bit. We both have Toastmasters in our background. Although I’m very proud of having achieved a significant level in that organization (ATM Gold), Lori zoomed past anywhere most Toastmasters even hope to go.
Breaking past limiting beliefs and skills, Lori explains, “I joined Toastmaster because I was afraid of speaking in public”. Eventually she found herself becoming more comfortable taking on more speaking and leadership roles in that organization, ultimately leading her to serve on the Toastmasters International board, no small feat.
Are you afraid to speak out? Don’t know how to best phrase what you hope to say? You can do what Lori did and gain those envied skills by joining an organization, getting a coach, or finding a mentor. Sharpening your speaking skills boosts the chance your message will be heard.
TIP: Come from a place of service.
In my opinion, discovering your unique gifts you bring to the world using them to help others is what makes leaders. (If you don’t know what your gifts are or would like to explore them further, I can help. Check out https://marionspeaks.com/consulting-coaching/).
Her experience serving with Toastmasters prompted Lori to focus on public service in our community. In 2014, Lori ran for Niagara Falls (Ontario) City Council and, as a runner-up in our “at large” system, attended almost every single Council meeting for four years. Imagine how well you would know the issues of your organization if you attended every meeting in four years!
That sense of service and preparing herself resulted in Lori securing a seat on our Council in 2014. All that listening paid off. Which leads me to the next point …
TIP: Leaders keep their eye on the goal.
Knowing what direction you’re going to take requires understanding where you are, where you want to go, and how. Reaching consensus and exploring options, whether in the workplace or in local council, happens through reasonable discussion and exploration of both facts and opinions. Then comes the fun part … using your powers of persuasion to earn consensus. This is what really distinguishes leaders.
Lori’s approach is one you could use as well. Here’s a recent example of how she handled a challenge. She explains, “I educated myself on all aspects of the complicated issue and during the Council meeting, I introduced a place that I thought was viable. I worked with Council and staff to eventually come up with a way to move forward.
While seeking input, information, and opinion, keep sight of your overall objective and who it is you want to serve. That guiding principle will lead you so you may lead others.
Thank you Lori Lococo for sharing your insights with us. Our discussion reminds me that there are leaders all around us. Many are in the workplace, be they private or public service. We all have the opportunity to lead in some way. And with Lori’s tips and insights and those of other leaders, we just might learn how to do it even better.
After all, that’s what leaders do.
©2022 Marion Grobb Finkelstein (MarionSpeaks)
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation”
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