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Get to know the Unleashing Leaders Change Agents: Teal Gaydos


Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

The approach I have taken in life is to find what effective trait(s) each leader I encounter has. I have interacted with some phenomenal leaders and some lack luster leaders. With this outlook, I have been able to learn something new from every person and interaction.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?

Leaders make important decisions daily — often without any thought around them. Some of the most important decisions are how leaders choose to develop your team. This may mean stopping what you’re working on to provide timely coaching or praise.

Another important decision we make as leaders is how to prioritize work and allocate the resources, accordingly. As a leader, your team looks to you to help set the priorities, once they are set, the leader is then responsible for allocating resources to the highest priorities. Oftentimes there is a disconnect between priorities and how the resources are allocated; this can create mixed signals and thus decrease the overall performance of the organization.

As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?

One way to ensure inspiration doesn’t diminish is to keep the mission and vision at the forefront. This means talking about what each statement means to the team and as individuals, why they are important, and how the work each person does on a daily basis is helping to achieve the meaningful goals of the organization.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

Creating a safe space where creative thinking is encouraged and mistakes are met with curiosity and an opportunity to learn from, rather than with discipline or punitive measures.

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

Great ideas are often thought to come from the top of an organization, however in my experience I have found they come from all levels. A person’s role is less important in idea generation and more about people being given the space to think creatively. That is when great ideas are generated!

Which is most important to your organization—mission, core values or vision?

This is a tough question, all three are very important! The mission and vision create clarity and alignment in the organization. These are the reason for the organization’s existence and what everyone can rally behind. Without a clearly defined mission and vision it is easy to get off course and lose sight of what is truly important.

The core values are important because they define how we should treat one another along the way. The core values act as a moral compass for decision making and can provide everyone with a litmus test when faced with difficult decisions.

How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values?”

The best way to encourage others is to model the way for them: communicating the core values yourself, taking notice of when others are living the core values, and discussing how the core values should guide our behaviors and decision making.

What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?

I’ve observed leaders that over focus on the bottom line/profit and forget the importance of leading and developing the people on their team. Often times when you ask why people leave an organization, respondents will say they left a job not because of the work demands, but because of their manager, leader, or supervisor. Leaders don’t realize the tremendously positive impact they can have on all aspects of business when they give the individuals in their team the support, encouragement, and coaching to help them feel fulfilled and succeed.