Name: Kathryn Lancioni
Title: Founder and CEO
Organisation: Presenting Perfection
Kathryn Lancioni is an award-winning, internationally recognized expert in the field of communications and was recently named one of PR News' "People of the Year" in 2023. With more than 25 years of experience, Ms. Lancioni has a unique appreciation and understanding of the communications industry working as a journalist, public relations executive, communications strategist, college professor and leadership coach. She is a published author and regular contributor to medium and numerous business publications.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.
I hope Kathryn's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?
The trick to building trust is authenticity. Speaking with people in a way they will understand, being open and honest in conversations, and acknowledging success, as well as failure, are the building blocks to being an authentic and trusted leader. No one is perfect and we have imperfections. Employees, customers, and stakeholders realize this and look to leaders who leverage their strengths and those of others to compensate for their weaknesses.
2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?
As a leader, vision is having a clear view of what you want your organization to represent and the plan to achieve it. This includes the ability to realistically predict some of the potential roadblocks and steps to mitigate them. The mission supports the vision as it represents the relationship you would like the organization to have with stakeholders and the community. It also includes the type of impact you would like the organization to make and the ways in which you would like to do it.
3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?
Employees feel empowered when they are given the tools and training to achieve success. As a leader, it is important to provide programs and resources that are easily accessible to all employees, regardless of level or function. Open access to such resources enables employees to seek out training and instruction on their own time, which makes it easy and self-directed, which can ultimately add to a sense of empowerment. It is important to understand exactly what tools would be the most meaningful and valuable to employees. It’s best to ask employees what they need instead of just offering a portfolio of tools that you think they want.
4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?
To date, my most meaningful mentor was my former boss, Joe Wright, Jr. He’s an incredibly accomplished business professional as the CEO of numerous organizations and the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. I have so many wonderful stories about Joe and lessons learned from him. He was my boss for over five years and every day I learned something from him. The most meaningful lesson was this: We all can’t be the best at everything. As a leader, it is important to leverage your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. You then surround yourself with really smart people who compensate for your weaknesses.
5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?
As a leader, it can be hard to maintain focus with so many issues and ideas being proposed to you around the clock. It is important to identify your objectives and goals and then devise a path to achieve them. Delegate responsibilities that you cannot realistically complete to others or those that will prevent you from completing your objectives.
6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?
I’m all about making daily lists and setting weekly goals. I believe in the old-school approach of pen and paper. When I make a list of things on a sheet of paper, it is my version of a brain dump. It helps me prioritize and also remember the big and little things that I need to do. Once I’ve made a list, I prioritize items according to the deadline. Every day, I have a Post-it with three things I hope to achieve. If I don’t complete them, they carry over to the next day.
7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?
Realize that you can’t do everything. No one is perfect and perfection leads to failure. Pick the three things you want to focus on and then delegate the rest to the people you think can most effectively achieve it.