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Leaders Can Emerge at Any Stage

By Terri-Lynn Levesque

December 4, 2017

As the incoming AICC Emerging Leaders board delegate, I have been elected to represent and advocate on behalf of the next generation of leaders within our Association. This is a responsibility that I feel is a great honor and privilege. Being involved in AICC’s Emerging Leader program, I have been fortunate enough to take several plant tours, listen to industry experts, receive leadership training and development, and most importantly, network with peers whom I now call friends.

Leaders come in all different forms; they don’t only include the person at the top of an aorganization chart. Leadership is much more than a position or a title. While an organization chart may help clarify decision-making levels, it does not limit the actions and characteristics that define great leaders.

Title or No Title—What Makes a Great Leader?

Displaying Honesty and Integrity in All You Do

As children, we are taught that dishonesty and breaking your values is a punishable offense. I’m reminded of the mantra that is ingrained into us from an early age by our parents or grandparents: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is true in your personal and professional life. Your actions and words will determine whether you get respect from others and will affect your future success. Earning the respect of your team is critical.

Finding Yourself Great Mentors

The four types of mentors you need are the coach, the connector, the cheerleader, and the challenger. Very early in my career, I naturally gravitated to a mentor within our company who had the same core values as I did. He is the one I go to for support, feedback, guidance, and when I need to be taken down a notch. Great mentors are always willing to share their knowledge, provide constructive feedback, help you continuously grow, inspire you to be better, and teach you how to overcome challenges. They will assure you there are no stupid questions, and they will be unafraid to tell you the hard truth. They are passionate about the industry and wanting to give back. Being a great leader starts with a great support system.

Communicating Effectively

An effective communicator is continually improving key skills: actively listening, showing friendliness, being concise, practicing empathy, having confidence, providing feedback, and being conscious of their nonverbal communication. They strive to be an expert in all these areas and will work hard every day to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Being Passionate About All you Do

Passion is something that is not easily faked, and it can be displayed in several ways:

  • By looking professional, dressing for the role you want.
  • By being a team player; being the solution and not the problem.
  • By focusing on your work and making it a priority. Develop a positive work ethic.
  • By knowing your competitors inside and out. Stay ahead of the curve, know your market and all adjacent markets.
  • By becoming an expert in your field. Be that “go-to” person.
  • By showing up on time and being prepared.
  • By balancing your enthusiasm with a dose of realism. Find that work-life balance so you

    don’t burn out. Know the difference between “want to do” and “need to do.”

Great leaders choose their words and actions in order to better their people or their customers.

In the words of Douglas McArthur: “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

What will your leadership mantra be?

width=150Terri-Lynn Levesque is the office manager at Royal Containers Ltd., in Brampton, Ontario. Levesque is an Emerging Leader and a board member of AICC Canada. She can be reached at