A Cincinnati native, Elisha Hill attended Xavier University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Development. Throughout her career in the retail industry, she’s made contributions in Marketing, Operations, and Talent Management. Today, as a Leadership Development professional, Elisha designs and facilitates leadership programs, and manages organizational change initiatives. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for helping others achieve their purpose has recently led her to start her own business offering coaching and development services. Elisha is married to her high-school sweetheart, and is the mother of two beautiful daughters. You can contact Elisha at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about her services.
“Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test.” – A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
My journey towards developing the character qualities of a leader consists of a variety of life experiences and lessons. Growing up, I participated in several extra-curricular activities, which exposed me to different leadership styles, propelling me into active leadership roles. As a track and field athlete in high school, my coach constantly reminded us that although we ran individual races, at the end of the day, track and field was a team sport. The points I earned were the points that the team earned. I believe this was the driving force behind our team winning the State Championship.
Lesson #1: My leadership is not about individual success, it’s about my ability to contribute towards the success of others.
While in college, I was selected to participate in INROADS, a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and place talented underserved youth in business and industry, and prepare them for corporate and community leadership (www.INROADS.org). During the leadership workshops, guest speakers and alumni reiterated how our behavior, both positive and negative, could have a lasting impact on the doors that are left open for others.
Lesson #2: The choices I make as a leader can dictate my successor’s future.
After I graduated from college, I began working for a major retailer as a manager in their Executive Development Program. While in the program, I rotated to three different departments, one of which I had 44 direct reports. To put things into perspective, I was two years out of college, and managing a team of individuals who had been with the company for longer than I had been on earth. Lacking the confidence to believe that I had the skills and the knowledge to lead my team, I made many mistakes trying to “prove” myself. My director was a graduate of the program and provided transparent feedback and encouragement along the way. Her authentic leadership was the key to me finding the right balance between having the confidence to lead, and having the humility to learn.
Lesson #3: My authenticity will help others walk freely in theirs.
Each of these lessons molded my leadership style over the years. I am continuously refining my style, and reminding myself that leadership is not about me – it’s about those I serve.
As I was transitioning into my Learning and Development role, my director who played such an integral part in my development shared some valuable feedback to assist in my transition. She said, “Remember the acronym O.O.D.A. – Orient, Observe, Decide, Act.” She explained how some people in leadership positions are so intent on showing what they know, that they fail to take the time to ask questions, listen, and learn. I’ve learned that this advice can be applied to more than just times of change. Being open to learning new things strengthens, encourages, and empowers me to lead more effectively.
I am a huge proponent of practicing servant leadership. This type of leadership calls for individuals to serve others with humility, authenticity, and self-sacrifice. These are the attributes that some of history’s greatest leaders exhibited while overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. When a person possesses these traits, they foster an environment where others are free to learn and grow.