The University of Hawaii College of Engineering’s Leadership Seminar Series recently featured iQ 360’s founder and CEO, Lori Teranishi, and her sister Ann Teranishi, president and CEO of American Savings Bank. They shared practical advice for up-and-coming professionals and lifelong learners and urged students to push themselves into situations where they felt uncomfortable, because real growth happens when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Below are four lessons from their talk, which focused on “things that no one tells you in school.”
1. You’ll remain a student for the rest of your career – and love it!
Consistently learning new skills and sharpening your mind go hand in hand with success. Take every opportunity to learn at the office and in life. That may mean volunteering to do a new, unfamiliar project at work, signing up for a virtual class to stay up to speed on industry tools and trends or embracing a new hobby in your free time. Being unafraid to try new things, and struggle through them at times, will only help you be adaptive as the world around us continues to evolve.
2. Start developing your network and networking skills while still in school, and never stop.
Your network provides a crucial sounding board that you can tap into throughout your career. Keeping in touch with folks whose work you respect is often the path to unearthing new opportunities. Maintaining the relationships that you value and collaborating with others will spark ideas and help you keep a finger on the pulse of industry trends.
3. Aspire to become a leader, not a manager
Early in their careers, some people mistakenly equate career advancement as leading larger and larger teams. What you should focus on however, is taking the positions that will give you the most exposure to developing both functional and leadership experience. You can move laterally within an organization or across industries, managing larger and then smaller teams, but accumulating a wealth of experience that will position you to be a stronger leader down the road. Organizations are becoming flatter, and less hierarchical, and you can be a strong leader as an individual contributor as well.
Failure is imperative –
as any CEO will tell you.
4. Embrace failure and recover quickly
Climbing the corporate ladder without setbacks is impossible; failure is imperative – as any CEO will tell you. Embrace the lesson and the constructive criticism, understanding that the experience also helps to improve your emotional intelligence. Empathy is a crucial quality inherent in the most charismatic leaders.
One of the universal traits all leaders need to master is soft skills – being able to understand the political dynamics inside and outside the organization, tapping into what motivates people and having the communications skills to navigate the many roadblocks that come your way.