Leadership Is a Marathon

As you embrace opportunities in your career, remember that leadership is not a sprint.

by Melissa Yoder, CLA
Melissa Yoder, CLA

Congratulations to the 2021 class of 40 Leaders Under Forty! What a tremendous group of young professionals in this year’s class—rising leaders in the prime of their careers. The outstanding diversity of their experiences and backgrounds is a remarkable depiction of the opportunities this central Illinois marketplace has to offer.

Impactful and talented leaders have left their mark here in Peoria and gone on to establish successful companies and organizations. These leaders have defined and executed business strategies or social service missions through challenging times, yet maintained an uncommon philanthropic spirit that makes this community flourish. 

Visualize, if you will, a track-and-field relay race. As you embrace leadership opportunities in your professional career, execute with a strategy similar to being part of a 1,600-meter relay team. Step onto the track and boldly grab the baton…

Lap One
Start with courage and be eager, but don’t tire yourself out too early. Exude humility, remain genuine and learn all you can from those in front of you. Many long-term benefits can be gained from “drafting off runners” ahead of you. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Your time to shine will come.

Lap Two
Start making your move, but recognize there will be challenges. Conversations and resolutions may be difficult when issues are presented for swift decision making. These decisions may test your courage as well as your intelligence. Be informed, gather facts, understand and listen to both sides of the situation. It can be easy to focus on the negative. Don’t lose sight of what is going right—and leverage that for continued success. 

Lap Three
Find your stride. With each step you take, be impactful. Keep your eye on your strategy, your goals, your mission and your purpose—and live accordingly to them each day. Give much of yourself to others: lend an ear, be a coach, invest time in mentoring, and help shape the careers of those in your organization. Don’t ask others to do what you wouldn’t expect of yourself. Show gratitude, recognize and praise good performance. Be a leader who demands a lot from themselves, but also fosters that high-performing team. Provide opportunities and focus on building the careers of those coming alongside you. 

Final Lap
Finish strong… even if there is not much gas left in the tank! Be accountable each day to what you said you were going to do, on time, to the best of your ability, without being reminded. Your successor will be waiting for you at the finish line, so don’t coast that last 400 meters. Your organization, teammates and future leaders need you to stay in the race with them until that baton is handed off. After your relay leg ends, be proud you left them in a better position and cheer them on to success! PM

For more information, contact Melissa Yoder at melissa.yoder@CLAconnect.com or (309) 495-8894.

The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, accounting, investment, or tax advice or opinion provided by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CliftonLarsonAllen) to the reader. For more information, visit CLAconnect.com.