Leadership Interview Paper
I interviewed Becky Hendrix, Executive Director for Professional Care Services. I recently had the honor of interviewing someone in our community who has had more than twenty years of leadership experience in our community. The interview ended up taking much longer than I expected because I was so influenced by what she had to say, I did not want to miss anything. Mrs. Becky Hendrix started her career as a CPA back in the 80's for the World Color Press. Her leadership abilities were quickly realized, and she was promoted to head CPA. From there she moved on to the Professional Care Service where she remained for fifteen years serving as a CPA, and finally working her way up to the Executive Director. Becky was in charge of over 187 employees. My conversation with Becky took a direction that I did not expect. She attributes her success to the leadership traits that she has learned over the years, and quoted many of the very ideas and theories almost verbatim from our class lecture. That was an incredible experience to witness firsthand how these traits become behaviors and practices.
Throughout the course of our interview, Becky laid out the history of her leadership experience, and pointed out how she has learned many of her characteristics from watching other people. Becky heavily noted how leadership and management styles have made a drastic change over the last 30 years from the "my way, or the highway" (Hendrix) approach, to a servant leadership approach. Mrs. Hendrix recalled a plaque that use to hang in her bosses office in the 80's that read "Beatings and hangings will continue until morale improves!" That was the strategy that was used back then, but disregarded the lingering question of "Why" in the eyes of the employees. Becky provided me with a great analogy that explained the concept of putting a screw into a board with a hammer. "You can drive a Screw into a board with a hammer, and it will go in; however, both she screw and the board will end up forever damaged and the board will eventually wiggle loose." (Hendrix) Short term results can be achieved through toxic leadership, but long term goals will almost always fail. Throughout her experience with Professional Care Services, Becky noticed that approach being used, and vowed to change it within her area of leadership. She attributes her success to that very idea.
Strong interpersonal skills are one of the most important characteristics she outlined for me. By that, she means "take time to be kind" (Hendrix). To achieve positive results out of the people in which she works with, Becky "turned her division upside down" (Hendrix) or transitioned to a servant leadership philosophy. She wanted her employees to feel like the president of the company was someone who not only cared about them and their concerns, but wanted to be someone who they could come to with any problems or ideas they have. "Seek first to understand before you try to be understood." (Hendrix) By taking time through charismatic leadership to be kind to her employees, and being empathetic toward their work and personal lives, Becky was able to achieve above average results out of average people. The ability to "shut up and listen" is a key trait one must have to be a good leader. I asked her if she thought that by being friendly to her employees, and getting to know them personally interfered with her ability to delegate. Becky responded by stating that if you are firm but fair, honest and straight forward with people at all times, you will in turn commandeer respect from your employees which will provide both parties the necessary tools to excel in their respective positions. One must beware, however, of being insincere, because everyone will see right through you and lose all respect. One must lead by example and be constantly and actively aware on a daily basis that everyone is watching the leaders and modeling their actions after yours. "People don't care...
References: Hendrix, Becky. Executive Director Ashley Vance. 17 October 2014.
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