Continuously Growing In Leadership
“You’re too young to worry about that, I’ll tell you when you’ve grown up.”
Although I don’t remember the finer details, I do remember hearing that phrase over and over again—“when you’ve grown up.” From a child’s standpoint, becoming this idealized image of a “grown-up” is the pinnacle of childhood dreams about the future. You think, “I can’t wait until I’m older!” But over the years, I’ve learned that while you can get your driver’s license at 17 and the ability to vote at 18, there never comes a point when you essentially stop “growing up.” AlphaSights illustrated this concept a few weeks ago when it hosted a lunch-and-learn about “Growing in Leadership.”
By listening to their stories, I learned that our vice presidents—some of the most successful people at AlphaSights—are still learning how to grow themselves. This panel session helped me realize that growth isn’t just one period in your life, but rather a mindset that guides you forward through every opportunity you encounter and it never stops.
To grow in any situation, especially in a leadership role, you must remain adaptable. Regardless of your age, title, or experience, there will always be instances that require agility and openness to trying new things. For Sean Corrigan, our Chief Operating Officer, this meant being adaptable throughout our start-up stage. He jokingly reminded us, “My first day on the job, we went to the Apple Store to buy computers. This is indicative of how chaotic startup life can be. There isn’t a structure and you are building the foundation in terms of career paths or support functions.” For Sean to grow as a leader, he had to embrace the chaos and learn which tasks to prioritize as the company changed, matured, and grew in size and product offerings.
Developing as a leader also requires a renewed commitment to providing the best results. Dominique Kleeman, Senior Vice President for Europe, recalled how she needed to process information faster to garner better results. “I quickly learned that progress is better than perfection. It’s okay if something isn’t perfect, we just need to keep pushing things forward to solve problems quickly.”
Continued growth, however, isn’t possible without a sense of humility. At AlphaSights, we pride ourselves on our feedback channels that allow our associates, managers, and VPs to develop a strong understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. By remaining humble and open to feedback, our people can grow faster through radical candor.
This sentiment was echoed by Alex LeClair, our Global Head for Capital Markets. When he first started, he’d never had frequent feedback channels at his previous jobs. “I looked around and said, ‘What are people talking about in these meetings?’ It was a shock to me to see a firm take people off the desk to focus on their betterment, development, and personal growth.”
These feedback sessions enable you to have a stronger sense of yourself and develop ways to grow your performance. For Lexi Zavras, former VP of one of our consulting segments, this meant growing in confidence. “I learned to stop apologizing and stop using ‘sorry’ as a filler word when I was nervous. I now trust my instincts and my colleagues around me more than ever before.”
For Shaun Ritchey, former VP of our New York private equity segment, growing in leadership meant developing his emotional intelligence to manage others. “I remember, ironically, questioning myself when I was promoted to manage other people: ‘Why me? Why am I qualified? I don’t have as much experience as others.’ Eventually, you learn that everyone at a high-growth company is learning and experiencing new challenges for the first time too, so the question becomes, ‘Why not me?’” This mindset shift allows you to realize that everything can be learned, and it become a coaching topic that Shaun employs regularly with his managers and associates.
Ultimately, it’s important to recognize that the most inspiring and thoughtful leaders reached their positions because they never viewed growth as a fixed stage, but rather as an ongoing mindset they worked on bettering. Our senior leadership at AlphaSights strongly represents our core values: adaptability, drive, results-orientation, humility, and emotional intelligence.
Helen Misiewicz joined AlphaSights as an intern on the Brand Communications team for the Summer of 2019.