Being an effective leader is about being better than your instincts.
Courtney Lynch shared that message with a sold out room at the first Professional Women’s Leadership event of 2015. The February 5th presentation was a unique installment of the series, with Lynch forgoing the podium for an interactive question-and-answer format as she walked around the audience. It didn’t take long for guests to be vying for a chance to ask a thought-provoking question to guide the conversation.
“I’m a huge believer in intentional action,” said Lynch, author of Leading From the Front. “I think what separates leaders from those who are still developing their leadership skills are their ability to take intentional action.”
Lynch also believes that for a leader to take intentional action, one must have vision.
“On my intense weeks, I just have to have vision for the next two hours,” joked Lynch. “I have a vision; I know it’s intense right now, so my vision is only going to be until Monday. It’s about perspective. I’m going to focus on acting intentionally.”
Lynch is a frequent lecturer on the principles of leadership, drawing on her experiences as a Marine. She also uses her time in the private sector, to include a background in sales and practicing law, to demonstrate what she considers some of the counterintuitive elements associated that thwart leadership and success.
“It’s not about how far down you are,” said Lynch, “but how many times you’re willing to get back up. The majority of my success was built in response to failure.”
Lynch co-founded Lead Star a decade ago, growing it into a multi-million dollar consultancy firm dedicated to providing leadership development opportunities to those in leading corporations, nonprofits and colleges and universities. Her clients include FedEx, Stihl, Norfolk Southern, CACI, 3M and Bank of America. A regular on the talk show and news program circuit, she has worked to advance the discussion on leadership on FOX, CNBC and CNN. In addition to her book, Lynch’s work has been noted in publications ranging from "Business Week" to "The New York Times."
Lynch eagerly focused to dialogue on the best practices she believes will allow everyone to be successful in the way that is meaningful to them, and to apply them in a positive way. In one anecdote she shared, Lynch says one of the nicest compliments she’s ever received was from her husband, saying she was good at “… learning from your experience and deeply listening to the experiences of others and applying that to life.”
Taking time to thank those who asked questions – “I appreciate you asking that” – Lynch suggested several leadership techniques for all leaders and would-be leaders. Key for her is visualization, building credibility before offering criticism, working outside your comfort zone, being self aware and taking accountability.
For women in particular, according to Lynch, the path to leadership can be difficult.
“Women have a very strong desire to be affirmed. We can be very captivated by being affirmed,” said Lynch. ” We’re social creatures and we want to be liked. We want to be respected. We want to know we’ve been heard and that our opinions and thoughts matter.”
Working together is also crucial for today’s leaders. She states that leadership isn’t about authority, but in achieving results.
“The days of the lone wolf leader, if they ever existed, are absolutely long gone. The problems of today are way too complex for one person to solve on their own. So how do we begin to learn how to work with and for other people – with other people for a solution for other people?”
In response to her own question, Lynch says that by being open to counterintuitive steps such as allowing other people to have the experience of failure. “Sometimes we have to step back, but be there to help. Allowing the failure to happen and letting people have the chance to learn from it.”
Her message was well received by the more than 300 who attended.
I'm happy to have been in the unsuccessful places in my life. It's not how far down you've been, but how many times you get back up."
- Courtney Lynch
“I come for the speakers,” says Tracy Keller, Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts Colonial Coast Council. “This series always has really great speakers.”
Lynch has previously participated in the Chamber’s leadership series and the return engagement was based on audience demand. She is currently working on her next book project, with a working title of “Spark.”
The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to present the Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series to provide its members and guests with insight and access to nationally-known speakers. The next speaker in this series will be Kim Kingsley, Chief Political Officer for POLITICO on May 15th.
Thank you to sponsors: Bon Secours Virginia Health System (Presenting); Newtown Building Supplies (Building the Future Partner); Tidewater Home Funding (Gold Sponsor); Cox Communications, Union First Market Bank, Virginia Eye Consultants and WTKR NewsChannel 3 (Luncheon Sponsors). Two attendees received a $100 LUV voucher in a drawing, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, the official airline of the Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series.