Trust. Pride. Camaraderie. These simple words can make the difference between a workplace where leaders create a positive environment that promotes good working relationships and a setting where employees flee at the end of the day.
Speaker Jennifer Robin shared insights into developing effective leaders Sunday during the second annual Women in Leadership Symposium at Augustana College, Rock Island. She is an assistant professor at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., co-author of two books and a research fellow and former consultant for the Great Place to Work Institute. Her efforts also involves working with senior leadership teams on how to strengthen organizations and how to mentor tomorrow’s business leaders.
“In my work, we use trust, pride and camaraderie ... in building the workplace,” she said
Robin interprets that phrase as “trust the people we work for, have pride in what you do (and) enjoy the people you work with there.” Also, great bosses use opportunities to build relationships with their employees, she said.
About 150 people attended the symposium. The event featured workshops on corporate leadership, meeting local needs, and balancing work, family and service. Members of a panel of students and academic leaders responded to Robin’s speech with their own experiences during a follow-up session.
Effective leadership includes creating ways for older and younger staffers to work toward common goals. Freshman Becky Potenberg, a biology major at Augustana, admits it’s not easy to make one’s voice known at age 18.
“I’m sometimes put at the bottom of the list. I’m continuously trying to prove myself. I have this passion, this drive,” she said.
On the opposite end, newly hired graduates sometimes discover older co-workers don’t have the same level of education. However, those long-time employees are often well-versed in practical aspects of the job and possess valuable life experience. The key is respecting and valuing everyone’s contributions toward creating a workplace where employees succeed.
Kim Armstrong, assistant dean of student support services at Black Hawk College, Moline, spoke about growing up at a time when women were expected to follow a linear career path. However, she created opportunities for combining her academic career and being a devoted mother of two daughters. She brought a playpen to her office at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she worked as a research associate.
“I kept my babies with me. That was my decision,” she said.