3 Lessons: Making Teams Tick

Kara Lee Associations Now March/April 2019 Issue

Kara Freeman Lee, CAE, pushes others, and herself, to excel. Here are three things she’s learned about leadership.

Kara Freeman Lee, CAE
Vice President of Administration and Chief Information Officer
American Council on Education
Washington, DC

Leadership is a mindset, not a title.

You can be a leader at any level in the organization. Leaders take initiative and motivate those around them to partner and develop solutions. I can remember being a systems analyst and pulling the other analysts together to improve the documentation we created. I knew the developers were not satisfied with our deliverables, and I could help make it better.

Diverse teams are the best teams.

Diversity in teams brings a richness of thought and a more expansive array of ideas. When team members have different backgrounds, they often produce more innovative solutions. Equally important is to intently listen to everyone. I work to engage those who may not be as comfortable sharing their opinion. Sometimes the best ideas come from the quietest person in the room. Once everyone realizes they can contribute and be valued, magic happens.

Get ahead of questions.

Anticipate the questions others may have about your work and answer them before they ask. As you create a presentation or report or some other deliverable, ask yourself: What does my audience want? Taking this extra step shows your skill level and will lead you to operate in excellence.