5 Leadership Lessons From Our Principal & Founder, Erica Hakonson

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When asked, in a recent interview, “what are your top 5 leadership lessons learned from your experiences”. Our  Principal & Founder, Erica Hakonson shared some true pearls of wisdom we’d like to pass on to you. 

I have learned a lot as a leader, which to me has been a steeper learning curve than being a “good employee”.

Dont Take Yourself Seriously - 5 Leadership Lessons - Maven Collective Marketing
Image 1: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

1.Don’t take yourself too seriously. Being the leader, the spokesperson, the decision maker, the voice of a company can make it feel like each success and failure rests solely on your shoulders. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stay in paralysis. But honestly, failure is the best teacher and I have learned a lot.

More than that, sometimes we just need to laugh at ourselves, shake it off and remember why we chose to do the work we love.

Technology is always trying, and sometimes it doesn’t work — even for the experts. I have been busted on more than one occasion for using creative language when dealing with technological challenges. I often say, I work to humanize brands — but it’s also important to show that I am human too. It makes it all the more satisfying, when the solutions are discovered.

Under Dog - 5 Leadership Lessons - Maven Collective Marketing
Image 2: Remember what it felt like to be the underdog.

2. Remember what it felt like to be the underdog. We all remember our first roles, first breaks, first mistakes and the pressure to meet/exceed expectations. Sometimes as an experienced leader we can get frustrated by “these learning moments.” It is important to remember those firsts and remember that people are generally well-intentioned and want to do the best, but we are all human. 

Even though I am a business owner, as a female in tech, I still feel like the underdog at times. I am often the only female in the room and there is extra pressure to prove myself, and believe it or not discount my rates. These experiences keep me humble, and help remember the importance of being patient, kind and understanding.

Bad Relationships - 5 Leadership Lessons - Maven Collective Marketing
Image 3: Don’t stay in bad relationships — even business relationships.

3. Don’t stay in bad relationships — even business relationships. I remember complaining and whining to my husband about client relationships that I struggled with month over month.

At the end of the day, like any relationship, if it is not a good fit and it isn’t working, don’t keep banging your head against the wall. You are both better off cutting the losses and moving forward. 

When I was starting my business, I reluctantly discounted my rate for a client I was unsure about. I wanted to get the relationship started, and justified that it was the best way to do so. Accordingly, while working with this client, our work was constantly questioned and undervalued. Needless to say, this client relationship didn’t work out. When it comes to business relationships, it is important to trust your instincts and not be afraid to walk away if it doesn’t feel like a good fit. My best advice is to recognize your worth and avoid working with any clients that will try to discount your value.

Full Bucket - 5 Leadership Lessons - Maven Collective Marketing
Image 4: Keep your bucket full to fill others’.

4. Keep your bucket full to fill others’. As leaders, as entrepreneurs, as parents and as women we often put ourselves last. This is what we have been taught to do and so we do it. But a leader that is exhausted isn’t a leader at their best, which is a leader that inspires and thrives. We need to take care of ourselves to best take care of our people, we need to be well fed, well rested, well energized and well connected to give the same to the teams that we lead.

As an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, an ultra-runner, a board member, I have been known to burn the candle at both ends. This is something I am constantly working on. I know you can’t help others if you are drowning yourself. Find what recharges you, and build in time for it. Your business will benefit. Trust me.

Praise Abundantly - 5 Leadership Lessons - Maven Collective Marketing
Image 5: Abundantly praise, strategically criticize.

5. Abundantly praise, strategically criticize. Everyone likes a pat on the back and a song of praise for a job well done. You cannot overestimate the meaningfulness of the positive feedback you deliver to your team. Some individuals run solely on that energy.

Also, while it can be said that all constructive criticism is good, I would argue that too much is bad. Even if you are approaching criticism from a positive lens of improvement and development, the amount delivered will always be weighted against the praise. Try to categorize and compartmentalize criticisms to deliver as swiftly and concisely as possible, in order to move forward with better outcomes.

The hamburger approach (good praise — constructive criticism — good praise) is never a bad idea. I remember working on an important presentation for a leadership team. I was proposing a cost-saving model through a group purchasing strategy. The presentation went really well and I received praise from everyone in the group, except my direct boss. This really impacted me — and it was no surprise when I was recruited to a new role, I didn’t think twice.

Want to learn more about Maven Collective Marketing, our Principal & Founder and/or interested in working as a Maven on the Maven Collective Marketing team? Get in touch today, email us a: maven@mavencollectivemarketing.com.

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