LGS Innovations‘ Linda Jones is a Pinnacle Awards finalist in the EA of the Year (Private Company) category. Here, she shares what has made her successful, who her role models are, what she’s learned from failure and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2017?
Jones: In addition to assisting the CEO, chief operations officer and other vice presidents, I also single-handedly orchestrated the company’s Senior Leadership Retreat, a large event that required focus and attention to detail to ensure every aspect was executed as planned and without error. This entailed caring for nearly 70 executives, handling the entire agenda, and managing all the hospitality arrangements for a four-day, off-site event.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Jones: I look for ways to demonstrate a servant’s heart, taking the opportunity to help wherever possible — even if it’s in the smallest things. My attention to detail and organizational skills help provide structure to the needs and demands of the CEO and my executive team.
I am surrounded by smart, talented executives at my company who lead by example. Great leaders are purposeful in making sure their actions always push the team ahead with positivity and productivity, and my boss is a perfect example of this style of leadership. He — and the entire executive team — are approachable, transparent and communicate a higher vision of the company. They support new ideas and provide honest and specific feedback. Their passion and commitment inspire me to give 150 percent effort every day.
What specifically makes you stand out from your industry counterparts?
Jones: I draw on my years of experience to cultivate some “best practices” and share that knowledge with my leadership and coworkers. I focus on being the best version of myself and continue to identify areas where process improvement may aid the leadership team or assist company employees with understanding direction from the corporate functions. Finally, I put aside personal commitments when needed for the benefit of the company, when hard-to-resolve issues are required and deadlines must be met.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
Jones: I have a passion for helping others. My biggest challenge over the years has been understanding and communicating my own limitations; learning when to say “yes” when I can and “no” when my plate is already full so my effectiveness is not watered down for those I’m helping. The way I’ve overcome this struggle is through communication with my boss and the executive team, and through finding balance and knowing when to ask for help from other staff members.
Who are your role models/mentors in the GovCon space?
Jones: My boss, Kevin Kelly, is my role model in the GovCon industry. Even though our roles are very different, Kevin is a humble leader who seeks the counsel of his team and puts others before himself. He demonstrates through his actions a high level of integrity and commitment to the success of both LGS as a company and its employees as individuals. He volunteers his time to rising leaders and promotes STEM in his community. It is his level of commitment and humility that makes him a great role model.
What’s your best advice for aspiring leaders who want to follow in your footsteps?
Jones: Work to understand not only the company’s and executives’ strategic and tactical operations plans, but also their individual strengths and weaknesses. A good leader understands and establishes trust and commitment to the team and their company. They demonstrate a willingness to take responsibility and make the right decisions. A team player knows s/he can draw on the knowledge and experience of other people around him/her within the team. A group of workers become a team when there is collaboration between all the members; therefore, a good team leader will recognize the need to adapt his/her style to fit the needs of the group.
These are things every company needs in an assistant for the organization to operate smoothly. Additionally, it is very important that administrative assistants are conscientious of business hours and are always punctual to work, meetings and other scheduled functions. Even a few minutes here and there can cause confusion and disorder.
Which rules do you think you should break more as a leader?
Jones: I’m not sure if vulnerability is taboo as a leader, but leaders sometimes believe they shouldn’t show vulnerability or transparency. However, I think the most effective leaders are honest, fair, candid and forthright and treat everyone the same way that they would want to be treated.
“The most important role as a leader is to set a clear direction, be transparent about how to get there and to stay the course.” Irene Rosenfeld-Mondelez
“I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.” Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
Jones: While performing my regular EA duties, I volunteered to take on an additional role outside my normal administrative realm as a junior database developer. As the junior database developer, I architected a custom database that improved a customer’s profit and loss tracking abilities and reflected an improved analysis for contract renewals. This challenge required juggling my day-to-day priorities and required collaboration with other groups within my organization.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
Jones: In the past, I was a bit of a perfectionist and unwilling to allow others to help as I put together the final touches on an event. I’ve since learned if an employee or leader is unwilling to trust other people’s abilities, they are robbing them of the opportunity to improve their skills and it may hurt the outcome of the briefing and/or event.
Sometimes, perfectionism can be a great asset but many times it gets in the way of being a team player. By remaining adaptable and calling on others for advice and assistance, it creates a team environment allowing them to grow and allows me to work within my wheelhouse. Seeking out others is a strength not a weakness. Working as a team draws on each other’s strengths and mitigates each other’s weaknesses. I’ve also learned that “failure” can teach us countless lessons and we can grow from those experiences and pass along “lessons learned” to others.