Today’s Convergence Spotlight is featuring Caroline Ready our bright and bubbly Operations Coordinator. Caroline joined us in January of 2022 and manages a variety of administrative processes, including our CPE, calendars, social media administration and resources. You may even see her moderating one of our leadership programs!
Caroline is an intelligent, outgoing team member who is willing to jump into any task to help. She shares fresh, new ideas freely and has a passion for helping others succeed and overcome obstacles. It is my privilege to be sharing her perspective on leadership with you:
CCLLC: What is it about a leader that you believe makes others genuinely want to follow them?
CR: Leaders who are authentic and embrace their shortcomings make it easy for individuals to fearlessly follow them. I am drawn to leaders who are genuine and understanding of their team while also pushing them to reach their potential. “Leading with kindness” will leave a lasting impact on your team and legacy.
CCLLC: Whose leadership style do you admire most and why?
CR: My college Ballet and Modern professor Lindsay Fisher Viatori’s leadership style will always be one I strive to model. Lindsay was always able to create a balanced environment between having fun and holding us to our potential. Something I appreciated about her was her openness to share her personal experiences with us both good and bad. It made her relatable and sometimes made the professional world less intimidating knowing what she dealt with. She created a space for us to show up as our authentic selves and welcomed everyone’s unique creative expression without judgement. Lindsay showed us that you can be tough, but you can do it with kindness and love. I think that is my greatest take away from the years dancing in her classes. Feedback is a gift and knowing how to give feedback is a learned skill, and it will be truly embraced when it comes from a place of love and generosity, otherwise it’s just words.
CCLLC: What is the most challenging part of being a leader? What is your advice for successfully overcoming this challenge?
CR: Being a leader is also being a teacher. One of the greatest challenges leaders can face is failing to teach those they are leading. Inboxes are always flowing, and extra time is in short supply, so it is easy to forget to set aside time to coach your up-and-coming leaders. I have had a few minor leadership experiences, but it wasn’t until I stepped into the role as an actual teacher that I realized that being a leader and being a teacher are not very different roles.
This past year was my first year teaching dance and I worked with the preschool kids. We listened to a LOT of Frozen and if they were good listeners, we played freeze dance. To follow my own definition of a leader, I focused on creating a space for all the children to be exactly who they are and led with kindness. I structured my class in a way that made the kids feel heard, had opportunities to have tasks delegated to them, and set clear expectations for the work we had to do. Sounds very intense for 3-year old’s but all of those elements can be integrated into any structure regardless of age. How? Well, I:
- Started every class with a check-in. I either had a prepared question or gave each student an opportunity to tell me about their day. They each had a turn to speak and had my full attention. This created community and encouraged participation.
- Included everyone in the process. We used poly spots, scarves, and a movement card game throughout class and I would direct different students to pick up the spots, pick the next card, or handout the scarves. This allowed them to take ownership over a small task and added to their sense of belonging in the group.
- Demonstrated what we had accomplished and what we hoped to accomplish. I used a small magnetic board that outlined our “agenda” for class so they could visually see our progress and verbally explained what we would be doing that day.
All of this created a great “leadership outline.” But it was the moments in between that tested my leadership. It was teaching manners, explaining that we can’t run in our tap shoes, or we could fall and get hurt, or how to put their shoes on. Things that I thought they might already know or have already been taught but, instead, those were gaps in my understanding of what they know. I think this happens more often than not. Sometimes we step into a position or reach a certain level and assume our team has full understanding. They probably have the structure down, but we shouldn’t assume the “in-between details” are clearly understood or in some cases have even been made clear. Take time as a leader to see what can be fine-tuned and don’t assume that you have nothing left to teach your team or learn.
CCLLC: Do you believe that great leaders are born or made? Why?
CR: I believe that everyone has the potential to be a great leader if they are willing to accept the feedback to get them there. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that providing feedback is a learned skill. People who become great leaders do so because they had someone model the behavior for them and teach what it means to be in a position of leadership. Personally, I feel the excuse used most often for outdated mindsets is “back in my day that’s how we did things, so that’s how I am going to do things.” This is a harmful, cyclical process not just for your business and employees, but also to yourself. Justifying your actions with outdated behaviors and attitudes halts your growth as a leader and allows toxic mindsets to infect another generation of up-and-coming leaders. To be a great leader, break the cycle and improve what you can in your time within your role. Individuals who can successfully break free from this way of leading are already a head of the game and on their way to being impactful leaders.
CCLLC: Do you have a favorite movie or book that you feel exemplifies what it means to be a great leader?
CR: The Golden Girls (technically a TV show!). I know what you’re thinking – how could a tv show about four spunky ladies in their Golden Years exemplify what it means to be a great leader? Easily. Great leaders are people who lift each other up, stand up for what they believe in, and bring their authentic self to the table, and that is Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, and Blanche to a T. In almost every episode they do all of the above. They tackled a variety of topics that were taboo at the time of filming like gay rights, the AIDs epidemic, and racial inequalities. They were innovators and pushed the boundaries and it was certainly worth it. They prove that you can have fun and be tough, you can be kind but stand your ground, and that cheesecake can solve any problem – something I’ve tested and can confirm.
In all seriousness, The Golden Girls showed us that anyone at any age can be a leader and make a difference. They led with love and wit and chose to be themselves no matter how old, goofy or dramatic, and I am grateful for the standards they set.
CCLLC: What would you like ConvergenceCoaching blog readers to know about you?
CR: Where to start! I am very lucky to have come from a long line of strong women. Women who have faced great sadness and struggle with resilience and grace under pressure. I am grateful for all of them and how they helped shape me into the woman I am today.
I am an advocate for inclusion and seek to make the world a kinder, more accepting place by creating spaces for individuals to bring their authentic selves to.
I majored in Dance and have a minor in Adapted Physical Activity and hope to provide adapted dance opportunities for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. I believe that anyone can dance and dance is for all!
While Caroline successfully convinced this Trekkie to add Golden Girls to her streaming watchlist, I couldn’t help but to notice a theme emerge – leadership takes the willingness to continuously learn. Whether it is learning to provide valuable feedback, fine-tuning processes, or helping others learn through feedback, having the strength to admit you could learn something new or provide opportunities to grow is key to being a successful leader at any age or experience level.
Until next time,