S. Kathleen Brandt’s Tips for Emerging Leaders

S. Kathleen Brandt
Assistant Vice President, Applications Development
CSX Technology

L. Liang: What three skills/abilities do you feel are most important for career advancement in today’s rapidly-changing global environment?

S. Brandt: Collaboration and influence; to think about shifting your focus toward achieving shared objectives as a whole, as one team, for the greater good. This requires strong interpersonal skills including relationship building, trust, and mutual accountability.

Empathy and emotional intelligence to seek to understand others and show you care.     Be a good listener, and practice self awareness and the ability to relate to others. Finally, adaptability to adjust to different and changing conditions. Understand the culture you are working within, whether departmental, organizational or global.

L. Liang: What advice would you give to an individual interested in advancing his/her career to help determine if he/she has a future in his/her present company, or if he/she should change companies?  

S. Brandt: Regarding your current company, do you have the opportunity to learn in your company and/or role? Advancing your career isn’t always about title, but the opportunity to learn and do more. Consider leveraging a lateral move to explore new opportunities and learn new skills. It’s up to you to seek out opportunities and step toward the fire. You own your career. Take some calculated risks both personally and professionally, and ensure you have support to help you with them.

L. Liang: Do you or did you have a mentor?  If so, how did you obtain him/her?  What was the most important benefit you gained from your mentor?

S. Brandt: Identifying what you want/need to focus on is helpful in finding a good mentor relationship. Everyone brings different talents and strengths to a team. You should feel free to ask someone to mentor you. Be specific as you approach someone about mentoring as to what area(s) you are interested in working on. Consider asking your boss to help you open the door to approach a mentor. Being a mentor to others is also a great opportunity to learn and grow personally. All of my mentorships allowed insight into the company, me, leadership styles, and other perspectives, which all provide a broader background from which you can leverage.

L. Liang: What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to emerging leaders to assist them in advancing their careers?

S. Brandt: Communicate! Communication is a key to building relationships, setting expectations, and learning. Formal and informal communication skills are both important as you advance in your career. Communication does not always mean speaking.You must listen and seek to understand. Value diverse perspectives. Where is this person coming from? What is this person’s preferred communications style — texting, e-mail or face-to- face? Are you listening?

Linda A. Liang PhD, is president of Organizational Resources, LLC. She’s an executive coach and leadership development consultant and can be contacted at orgresourc@aol.com

More Articles in the Tips from Emerging Leaders Series

  1. Tips from An Emerging Leader: Luis Vargas
  2. Tips from An Emerging Leader: Gurdish Singh
  3. Tips from An Emerging Leader: Joanne Ryan
  4. Tips from An Emerging Leader: Shelly L. Flanagan
  5. Tips from An Emerging Leader: Kamila Elliot
  6. Tips from An Emerging Leader : S. Kathleen Brandt
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