Advice to New Leaders

March 21, 2024

What advice would you give your younger self about leadership?

Ask questions. Following on Covey’s advice to seek first to understand and then to be understood, not everything is clearly seen at first glance.  New managers eager to demonstrate their management skills sometimes jump into things without a clear picture.  Asking questions is a key step in understanding the entire situation. Asking the right questions, can help others have “Ah-ha” moments as well.


What's the best advice you've ever received on being a good leader?

Stay calm.  The Fight or Flight instinct might be great for running away from a bear (and that is debatable) but its seldomly helpful in an office environment.  The excited state pushes blood toward your muscles and away from your brain (not great for creative thinking…).   People gain confidence from and follow individuals that remain calm during challenging moments.  With a plan and a little practice anyone can develop a good professional poise.


What do you wish you knew that would have helped you succeed in your first leadership role?

Leadership is different than it looks like in the movies.  One person running around yelling at others, solving every problem, and performing each task is unrealistic.  The key to running a good operation is developing a team.  This requires identifying strengths of individuals and pointing them in a direction that best fits those talents.  Your team will be happier and more productive in their (guided) independence.  You will avoid the burnout and stress of thinking you have to do it all.     



Matt Penney, Director of Parking and Transportation Services.