Springfield, MO

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Paula Dougherty

Ameriprise Financial

Posted online

Influential Author
I am a big fan of Jon Gordon. I have read nearly every one of his books. They are about life, people, making the world that you live and work in a better place, and helping those around you to succeed. A couple of years ago, I read “The Carpenter.” That one really resonated with me. The principals are simple: love, serve, care. You apply these words to every area of your life: God, family, friends, leading your team, taking care of clients and the organizations we volunteer for and are members of in the community. I have shared these principals with my team and then put them into practice. I believe you have to be a living example of what you hope to share and spread to others. Several years ago, we adopted Jon Gordon’s “One Word” idea, in which each of my team members picks a word that will lead and define them for the coming year. Rather than making endless lists of goals, it simplifies the process of transformation by focusing on one word that will influence all dimensions of your life. My “One Word” for 2021 is “Seek.” I want to seek answers, knowledge, greater understanding, different points of view. Sometimes that means asking the hard and possibly uncomfortable questions, and potentially making tough decisions.

Advice for Aspiring Leaders
I believe that owning and running a business is probably a lot like learning to fly. The takeoff is not nearly as important as being able to continuously adjust to the conditions around you. You have to be prepared for just about anything to happen by equipping yourself with the right people, resources, technology, education and attitude. Trust your instincts, serve with your heart and listen to your inner voice. Seek advice from people you trust who have values that align with yours. Do not underestimate the importance of relationships. In this world of texting, social media and emails, I believe you still have to show up, be present and have conversations with people. You must have courage and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Learn to listen.

What do you wish someone had told you about being a leader?
Being a boss and being a leader are two different things. Not everyone is cut out or meant to be a leader. It is important to understand the impact you can have, positive or negative, if you take on the responsibility of leading someone else. The power to make a positive difference in the life of another human being can have far reaching effects. You have to be respectful of that right and use it wisely.


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