LEARNING CURVE: Take me to your leader

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Tracy Clayson is director of client development at
In Transit / CPC Logistics Canada.

As a professional in human resources, I am drawn to ideas and discussions about organizational behavior, employee engagement and leadership.

I often find myself asking what personality traits are held by those who make good leaders, and I want to know how people can apply or adapt these traits to their own professional career efforts and work styles.

We will look at that in this column and, as a bonus, I’m adding a career-boosting “New Years’ Resolutions List” on healthy workplace habits, inspired by management gurus and leadership thinkers including Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell and Simon Sinek.

Speaking of career-boosts, a good way to instigate one is to always remember to dig deeper and seek out truly good bosses. According to Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, charismatic leaders may appear more effective, but the research shows otherwise.

Organizations with leaders who put more focus on developing their management teams have more financial success, are more effective and tend to last longer – just like their loyal teams.

Can you boast of having an extraordinary CEO and leadership team? If so, your leaders’ personality traits likely include some of the following: honesty, generosity, fairness, appreciation, humility, lightheartedness, collaboration and discipline.

Personally, I am four promotions and several contenders away from the CEO position at CPC Logistics (a long shot!), but I am setting myself some performance goals to better position myself today and for the future.

As with anyone, some of my traits are effective and some are not; it’s all about focusing on the strengths and dialing down the weaknesses. So, my New Year’s resolution list details habits and actions I plan to model and adapt to my own style and approach.

10 mantras to work by in 2020

1. Practice intentional listening. Communication involves mastery of both the art of speaking and listening – truly hearing what the other party is saying, and not just waiting for a silence so you can fill it.

2. Embrace your imperfection. Focus on your strengths and don’t try to be someone you’re not; comparing yourself to others by elevating or denigrating yourself is a waste of time.

3. Prepare to be challenged. Learning and growing is often uncomfortable – that’s because we are being forced to change how we think or act.

4. Remain actively curious. Assume you don’t know the full story. Get the facts, practice agility in your thinking, and avoid rushing to conclusions.

5. Balance humility with confidence. We all know people who are hugely charismatic and those who don’t naturally engage with others or promote themselves. Can you be the best of both?

6. Invite different ideas. Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

7. Be generous with your time. Connect with people, help others to succeed, welcome the chance to share your experience and mentor more.

8. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Humor is the best medicine. It’s okay to be wrong. Lighten up, problems are rarely solved in a state of frustration or worry.

9. Build your mind and body fitness. Be mindful of the food and drinks you consume, stay physically active and keep your brain stimulated. Take time to rest.

10. Share praise and encouragement. Build up your teams, focus on strengths, recognize accomplishments and say thank you.

Bonus Goal:

11. Practice discretion and good emotional hygiene. Get the facts and avoid making decisions based on emotions and opinions. Avoid gossip.

Earning a graduate degree in social work made me interested in human behavior at work and beyond. I’m still focused on helping people overcome the kinds of business hardships I have – and to channel their strengths to reach goals.

Perhaps years of business ownership have skewed my personality toward more of an opportunity ‘taker’ than a ‘giver’ (See Adam Grant’s Ted Talk “Are you a giver or a taker?”), but as I develop more in my corporate executive role (where there is much more opportunity for collaboration) I am finding one can balance empathy and confidence. This can make anyone a better leader.