by Leslie Horton, MA, MCHES, Director of Yavapai County Community Health Services
Lockdowns. Restrictions. Closures. Bankruptcy. Sickness. Death. Depression. Anxiety. Online school.
Last year at this time, I remember feeling the stress some days of running late and racing my kids to school and then hurrying to a morning meeting. I recall being momentarily tense and frustrated if the kids didn’t get ready on time, if I spilled my coffee, or if my day didn’t go as planned.
Fast forward to today, as I juggle getting ready for an early morning Zoom meeting, preparing both of my kids for their online classroom platforms, managing numerous early morning calls about COVID-19 on two cellphones, preparing for numerous daily pandemic presentations, and feeling fortunate if my dog does not spill my coffee as I attempt to facilitate that morning meeting from my living room.
I’ve realized that last year was like living the dream, and this year has catapulted me into a level of organization and leadership I never could have anticipated.
I’ve learned many valuable lessons during this pandemic that have helped me to be a better leader. The following are 10 essential skills women can use to enhance their leadership potential:
Intelligence — Use your wealth of knowledge in your field and be prepared to effectively communicate that information to your audience, as well as clearly answer their questions.
Confidence — Own your skills and knowledge and stand up for what you need, to be successful. Prepare to face challenges and adversity and acknowledge differences of opinion and challenges with poise and grace.
Resilience — Your ability to maintain control of your circumstances to the extent of influencing the process and knowing you can improve the situation. Managing how much you let your work affect other areas of life is necessary, while maintaining stamina for longevity.
Teamwork — Having a supportive team pays dividends. Learning to effectively delegate and showing deep appreciation for their hard work motivates progress and balances the workload.
Presentation — Whether in person or in online-meeting platforms, dressing professionally and looking your best will automatically increase respectability and dignity of your messages.
Prioritizing — Know your priorities so you don’t allow others to make their priorities yours. Setting clear short- and long-term goals for your work helps to maintain focus on priorities, as well as managing the most vital priorities like family, friends, faith, wellness and self-care.
Positivity — Smiling makes a positive impact on others. Show graciousness and compassion while allowing your positivity to be a catalyst for motivating the change you hope to see.
Flexibility — It’s important to roll with the twists and turns in times like these, keeping expectations open, and not allowing surprises to hinder progress toward the end game.
Networking — Connect with women and men you respect in leadership roles to gather perspectives and leadership skills. Turn to them in times of need for advice and guidance.
Balance — Finding a work-life balance strategy is a necessity during times of stress. It takes effort to make healthy choices, spend meaningful time with family or pets, maintain a household, and make self-care a priority, but striking a balance is essential during difficult and stressful times.
I have relied heavily on these skills throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m grateful for a vast network of strong and talented local leaders who have each helped me grow as a leader and have generously lent their support to the needs of our communities during these difficult times.
I feel fortunate to be a public health official in Yavapai County where teamwork comes naturally and am honored to lead a team at Yavapai County Community Health Services that works exceptionally hard to improve the health and well-being of the populations we serve.