ALEXIS TELFER

Director: Marketing & Sales, Africa, Cummins

ALEXIS TELFER.jpg

Been there: In my career I’ve had great bosses and I’ve had horrible bosses.  The great bosses continue to inspire me even years after we stopped working together.  I remember what I loved about working with them - how they made me feel and how I flourished under their care – and I consciously integrate those qualities into my own leadership style today.  I honour them by encouraging others the way they encouraged me.  Although the horrible bosses felt like living in a Survivor reality TV show at the time, I am just as diligent about remembering what I learned from them and ensuring I avoid those characteristics and traits in myself.

Done that: After school I went straight to work as I couldn’t afford to study full time.  Despite working full day and raising 2 children (and a husband!), I spent the first 15 years of my career taking night classes, weekend classes, short courses, and correspondence studies.  I completed a couple of diplomas and leadership development programs, and graduated summa cum laude in both ICSA and MBA degrees.  There is always time to improve yourself, it just takes commitment and prioritization.

Watch out: The work is the work.  This is the baseline expectation and your commitment to the company is to deliver an agreed outcome / output.  How you get the work done is even more important than what you get done. However the ‘what’ is more measurable than the ‘how’ so you have to deliver on your commitments first and foremost, otherwise all your positive intent will be overshadowed.

Most senior leaders have 3 things in common:  1) They have a good attitude, 2) they demonstrate consistent, high performance, and 3) at some point in their careers somebody took a chance on them.  Our roles as leaders is to 1) hire for attitude as much as for skills, 2) manage fairly for excellent performance, and 3) keep your eyes open for the opportunities to pay it forward and take a chance on someone else.

Quote: Work for a company whose values align closely with your own.  It is a lot easier to get through the tough times when you’re all working from a common purpose.

People problems only get worse with time.  Step in early with open, honest, constructive discussions on performance expectations and then support them through an agreed improvement process.  If it works out, everybody wins.  If it doesn’t, know when to call it a day and treat the person with dignity and respect through the separation process.

Be hard on performance and soft on people.  People soon forget individual wins and losses, but they never forget how you made them feel.

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