S'more Thoughts on Leadership and Workplace Dynamics

Hillary Barnhart

July 18, 2016

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My daughter bounds home from her job as a "CIT," sharing her experiences and what she has learned about leadership, internal politics, organizational dynamics and herself.

We've heated up, and boiled down 10 key takeaways you can share with your child(ren) or apply to your own career. My daughter has learned firsthand that attending a "school of hard knocks" is one of the best ways to understand how "work" really works.

1. Be confident.

Confident counselors commanded the most respect from other interns, counselors and campers. "The kids sensed counselors who didn't appear confident of themselves. Those counselors had trouble keeping control of the camper groups."

2. Be favored.

There will always be favorites, no matter what, so become a favored employee. "I was always willing to help out, to show my value and that I cared about my work." The counselors and administers valued me as a productive intern, far above interns who were lazy.

3. Be a leader.

Step up and take charge to handle unexpected issues, especially when no one else will. "I seized opportunities to take the lead in dealing with problems, finding solutions and encouraging other interns to pitch in."

4. Kill them with kindness.

Being kind to others, earns their respect. "At work, being nice to people went a long way. People who back-talked and complained, didn't go far... Because I was a favorite, I got first pick of the shifts."

5. Don't be a pushover.

"I didn't let other people take advantage of me when I agreed to take on extra tasks. I spoke up when I needed help from others to get something done."

6. Be prepared, so you keep your commitments.

"At the start of the day I checked what had to get done, and made sure the project areas were set up on time, so we'd stay on schedule."

7. Developing Emotional Intelligence goes far.

"I learned how to deal with different personalities: the Gossip, The Annoying One, The Touchy Person and the Mean Girl, who I learned was mean to everyone, not just to me." You can control yourself, not other people, so I learned what made them tick, and adjusted myself to make the very best of every situation."

8. Identify and provide what your customers need.

"I learned how to deal with kids with all sorts of issues, mental problems, allergies, ADHD...and how to address each one. For the kid with ADHD, we made a tinker-box for him, so he wouldn't disrupt the whole group. We figured out how to help each one, troubleshooting to meet their needs."

9. Socialize.

You have to show up the majority of time to social events, or others will think that you think you're too cool to hang out with them.

10. Don't be a Diva.

Employers appreciate positive attitudes and helpful employees. "Sure, there were lots of tasks that seemed beneath me, but they needed to get done, and my role was to assist the counselors and administrators. I was recognized and lauded for my contributions." The Camp Director told her that he hoped she'd return next year, as a counselor.

Agree? What would you add?

Author's Bio

Hillary is senior director of business operations and program management at Applied Materials. As an entrepreneurially-minded, results-oriented leader, Hillary is uniquely capable of bringing visions to life. She is responsible for order fulfillment, revenue risk management and sales and operations planning for a $500M+ business. She leads the design, development and deployment of concept-to-market and quote-to-cash processes, optimizing customer experiences, on-time delivery, cycle times and profitability.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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