Name: Darci L Asche
Organisation: New American Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment
I was born in ND, and recently moved to MN. I worked in refugee resettlement for 25 years, where I supervised case management and employment services. I currently volunteer with an organization that provides multiple services for immigrants and non-immigrants that move to our community. I enjoy the outdoors and nature, reading books (especially poetry), movies and laughing.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Darci's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
I am a very trusting person. I have found that some employees don't have good intentions, are not honest, and should not have been trusted. I should have listened to my instinct rather than fall back on trust as a value. The challenge for me is being disappointed in myself rather than poor employees.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
In my 20s I became a member of a Board of Directors with a very strong woman leader. She challenged me constantly to do things I'd never done before; to jump in and figure it out. I wanted to be just like her and so I studied her every move.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I stick to a pretty structured routine. I wake up early; around 6 am, read, have a healthy breakfast, get ready for the day before 8 am. I make my bed every day, try to do a self-care routine and get to work. I am most productive in the morning, so I try to use that time the most. I have lunch, which tends to be my big meal of the day. I like to answer emails and return phone calls in the afternoon, and if I'm in the office, I'll meet with the staff during that time. In the evening, I'll check the news, watch a baseball game or stream a movie or television program. I have a hot cup of sleepy time tea, and go to bed around 10:30 pm.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The best leadership lesson I ever learned is you can't lead just one way; you need to understand the needs of those around you who you are leading and adjust your style to meet them halfway. The people I lead now are two generations removed from me, so there is a huge amount of adjustment for me, but understanding my role as a mentor rather than a supervisor helps.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Dare to Lead by Brene' Brown. The approach, through research and data, and a deep understanding of the psychology of people, added to compassion and empathy.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Utilize every tool out there to learn leadership skills, especially strength identification. I resisted them for awhile because I thought they were useless, and then I found out just how useful they are for yourself and those who you lead.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I supervised a young college student through an internship with our organization. She was smart and disciplined, organized and flexible. But she doubted herself. After the internship, I offered her a job. She was just as effective as an employee. She decided to pursue a Master's degree, and I negotiated her position to part-time so we didn't have to lose her. She went on to study abroad, became a social work instructor, and started several services needed by clients and her students. She is an effective leader herself now, supervising college interns in CO. We remain close and she still calls me "Boss".