3 Lessons: Focus on the Details

Associations Now January/February 2019 Issue

Lani Burnett never misses a detail—or a challenge.

Lani Burnett
Director of Programs and Business Operations/Chief of Staff
Reserve Officers Association
Washington, DC

Avoid surprises.

Too often, a well-developed plan or a carefully thought-out process may begin to unravel because one detail is not shared. This can cause delays, extra work, or embarrassment. Attention to detail should be the hallmark of association staff. Be overly prepared, build in contingencies, and—more important—share information. What do you know? Who needs to know it? Have you told them? Your team will appreciate being kept in the loop.

Plan interaction.

“How am I doing?” That’s the best opening line staff can give you. Send a message back showing how much you value your team. Be physically seen and mentally present. Regardless of how jam-packed and unpredictable the day may be, intentionally carve out time to show your staff you are committed to providing what they need to be effective and successful.

Help others shine.

Early in my career, I groaned whenever I was given yet another “opportunity to excel.” Eventually, I realized these opportunities forced me to stretch, ultimately propelling me forward. I vowed to recognize, inspire, and present opportunities where I saw ability, even if I suspected hesitation. This is an important part of mentoring the next generation.