When I first graduated from undergrad, I never felt a calling in my career. I had been good with technology from a young age, so going into the information technology field just made sense. As time went on and my job titles increased in responsibility, I suddenly found myself surrounded by bright-eyed employees looking for guidance. Not just with professional subjects, but personal topics such as investments and life goals. After one long day of coaching my staff, I ended up alone at my desk. I came to a realization: I really enjoyed leading people and helping them along this odd journey we all call life. However, if I were going to do that properly, I was going to need some tools and training to be the best leader I could be.
And so started my trek towards Washington State University’s Executive MBA Online program. After some research, I determined the program fit perfectly with my learning style and would provide me access to the tools I’d need to be an effective leader. As soon as I saw Managerial Leadership and Productivity listed as one of the courses, I knew I was where I needed to be. And I was correct, the class ended up being one of my favorites in the program. One might go into a leadership course thinking that there are hard datapoints a supervisor must hit. A set number of rules you always need to follow, and if you do, you will be successful the majority of the time. The class showed me that most of the time good leadership boils down to a single thing: listening. Really listening to your employees and letting them know their thoughts, feelings, and ideas are heard. This doesn’t mean a good leader acts on every one of these issues, but they must listen to what their employees are saying. In my opinion, this is the true difference between a boss and a leader.
As I reflect on my time in the EMBA program, I have taken this realization to heart, and I’m feeling a true calling brewing. I know I am now a better leader to my employees and have decided to begin investigating what teaching on a collegiate level would be like. I find leading and mentoring younger people is very fulfilling to me, and I hope to do more of it as time progresses.
By #CougaMBAssador Aaron R. W. Wheeler