Leaders come in all shapes and sizes… and ages? Yep! After talking to resident Office Ninjas Joanne Linden and Melissa Smith (members of the Baby Boomer generation and Gen Xers, respectively), we knew we had to speak to someone from the Millennial generation. Love them or hate them, Millennials aren’t disappearing from the workplace any time soon.
The “selfie” and Facebook generation may get stamped with an “entitled” label every now and then, but talking to Crystal Le, an OfficeNinjas Ambassador and San Francisco Bay admin, was anything but “entitled.” More like grounded and humble. Here’s our conversation with one of OfficeNinjas’ bright, young faces.
OfficeNinjas: What do you think makes a good leader?
Crystal Le: Leadership is not synonymous with charisma, loud and passionate speaking, or unwavering confidence. Being a leader means being accountable, engaging, and having a macro perspective. I absolutely believe in the power of quiet leadership shown through actions, gestures, and words. Leaders have strong ethics, encompassing perspectives, and, most importantly, humility. The ones we trust and respect are those who are transparent and work towards the mutual benefit of the whole.
ON: What do admins bring to the table that make them great leaders in their organizations and/or professional network?
CL: Administrative leaders must be able to view a situation from all angles, act with diplomacy, and strategically navigate their way through duress. Admins feel the true pulse of the office culture. They are exposed to intercompany interactions; many times, they observe and notice what others often overlook. They act as liaisons within the company and the public, maintaining the sense of consistency even during the hectic times. They have a great perspective on all fronts. This is what makes them such good leaders.
ON: What have been your greatest rewards from being a leader in this profession?
CL: This is all new to me! In the short time that I have been involved with OfficeNinjas, it has been a great joy to see community members uplifting each other by sharing information, personal experiences, and rallying together at the events. I’m inspired to help others expand their network, propel their development, and elevate themselves.
ON: In some cases, admins are looked at simply as subordinates. What can admins looking to take on leadership roles do?
CL: Be the person that seeks continuous improvement personally and professionally. Look inward and master your own role first. Then can improvements be made and the rest will come naturally. Always be prepared to back up your suggestions with research, rather than throwing out ideas in every dimension. Be a valuable teammate and always treat others with respect.
ON: Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
CL: According the Myers Briggs test, I am technically an introvert. However, I have always been drawn to extraverted activities even though large social situations and new experiences can leave me feeling drained. But as long as I get enough sleep and individual time, I am able to bounce back quickly.
ON: Can you think of a time when your introversion helped you become a better leader?
CL: I entered a managerial position with Target right out of college, which meant a hyper-speed ramp up into leadership. My first lesson was that respect is not a given—it must be earned. As a leader, I’ve been told I am observant and big-picture oriented, which I credit to my introversion. I strove to become knowledgeable through observation and research—in all aspects of the business, not just my work center.
ON: What tips would you give to other admins in your generation?
CL: We [Millennials] are not entitled to anything. We must take pride in our work and carefully master our roles. Comparing yourself with others will get you nowhere. Instead, strive for continuous development and self-improvement.
Thanks so much to Crystal Le for chatting with OfficeNinjas about what it means to be a leader, the quiet power of leadership, self-improvement and humility. She may not speak for Millennials as a whole, but Crystal Le leaves a good impression for the lot of them.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?