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  • Writer's pictureVicki Ryan

Part 3: Leadership styles

This is part 3 of a 4-part blog series featuring insights from leaders on leadership. Each leader was asked questions designed to learn about their ways of working, ways of being and ways they lead others.

Below you will see the candid, poignant, funny and verbatim responses that are powerful in their simplicity and earnestness. You may choose to read them all 4 parts today or come back for moments of inspiration and encouragement. Before you dive in, have pen and paper handy. After reading the question that begins each blog, jot down your responses to the questions, then see what these leaders shared.


Who, or what circumstances, shaped your leadership style?


VR thoughts: Every leader who contributed to this blog series helped shape who I am and how I show up as a leader and a person. I own the flubs and mistakes... They taught me that too.


In my early 20’s, I managed a large project and went way over budget. I braced myself for the consequences. Then I heard my leader say: What did you learn from managing the client conference, starting with what went well?


After blurting out apologies and willingness to pay out of pocket (which would have been a couple of paychecks) he asked, “When do you start planning for the next one?” His vote of confidence in me was something I’ve never forgotten. He trusted that I had learned and would not make the same mistake. When situations surface, I offer this too. It’s worth mentioning that my leader in this story was Jack Zenger, who is still a mentor, coach and friend some 40 years later. Check out the podcast from ZengerFolkman The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Podcast.


Leaders' responses:

  • My parents… neither were college educated and yet both had wonderful, natural leadership qualities. They were good, fair, kind and responsible people and that always helped me remember that some things don’t have to be learned - these qualities can be innate. My big sister was also a huge influence. I tagged along with her everywhere while my parents were at work. She encouraged me and always treated me with care, never like the pesky little sister. I learned from all of them.

  • I had a district manager who believed in me and convinced me to believe in myself. This DM opened new doors, promoted me over and over, and at each step made sure I had what I needed to succeed.

  • My mom was 100% self-sufficient, amazing, and a real driver and achiever. And she cared.

  • People believed in me even when I didn’t believe in me.

  • I learned to watch good leaders and learn from them. And I also watched the not-so-effective leaders and learned from them, too.

  • In the military I learned a lot about how I wanted to lead, and how I didn't want to lead. It was pretty clear. In the corporate world, it was different of course, but there are still some great leaders to learn from, and not so great to also learn from.

  • I remember one particular morning when I was a new manager. I’d had a lousy and long California commute, spilled my coffee, etc. At 8:00am it felt as though the day was shot. I didn’t hide it at all. And so quickly the team picked up on my negative energy and on some level I knew the whole atmosphere of the team was going downhill. A peer friend had the courage to share her observation. I knew from that day on whether it was my team, my family, a group of leaders, a community or volunteer group, I had (have) a responsibility to show up with good energy and a deep sense of caring for others and the work we are responsible for doing.

Please comment and/or share your thoughts below. You never know who may benefit from your story the way these leaders have inspired so many, me included. Thank you for leading, growing and learning.


My most sincere gratitude to the leaders who have shared their insights, feedback, and coaching including Anne, Connie, Diane, Dick, Jack, Laura, Linda, Pam, Rob and Roy.

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