Things I Wish I Had Known in College

Jill Krueger, President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Resources Alliance, contributes the fourth part of a series stemming from a panel discussion involving successful women graduates of Northern Illinois University who discuss the topic:  Lessons from the Front:  If We’d Only Known this Back Then.

   Jill Krueger 

1. Attitude is Everything.

Solid technical skills are necessary in every job but how you deal with people is what leads you to a successful career.

People distinguish themselves within a company through personality traits.  The top people in the company I work for are technically competent.  However, where they excel is loyalty, dedication, and trustworthiness.  My key employees are also hardworking and have a positive “can do” attitude.

If you do not believe in the direction of the company or respect those you work for chances are, you are in the wrong place.  You need to feel good about where you work, there is no point in being unhappy or negative.  You spend way too much time at your workplace, you should look forward to going to work each day.

2. Good Leadership Skills Are Not Easy To Come By.

If you have them, use them wisely.  Keys to being good leaders include the following:

  • Create Trust:  Title alone is not enough to influence behavior.  You influence people because they trust you and you have earned their respect.  Motivating employees with positive feedback, utilizing constructive criticism versus blame will go a long way in creating trust.
  • Clear Expectations and Alignment of Goals:  Make sure employees have a clear understanding of your expectations and how what they do each day ties into the overall goals of the company.  Employees function much more effectively when they understand exactly how their job impacts the success of the company.  Explain why and how.
  • Bring Out the Best in Your People:  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Make sure your employees are in jobs that maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.  Coach, mentor and always provide timely, responsive feedback.

3. It Is Okay To Fail.

The best lessons I have learned, I learned from failure.  If you are afraid to fail you are holding back your ability to be innovative and probably not taking enough risks to grow yourself and your company.  Never fail because you did not do your homework or were not prepared for the situation.  We do make the wrong decisions for the right reasons, just make sure you do not make the same mistake twice!  Failure builds character.

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