Archive for Job Seeking Skills


Today’s TEAMTRI Guest Blog is from Dr. Jim Lemoine. Dr. Lemoine is on the research faculty at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo as part of their Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. He is an Assistant Professor of Organizations and Human Resources; a Trustee of Castle jump house the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership; a past local, state, and national Career Technical Student Organization officer for FFA, FBLA, and PBL; and a TEAMTRI Alumnus. His research on organizational management has been published in several outlets including the Harvard Business Review. As a researcher, Dr. Lemoine is always looking for organizational partners to study leadership behavior and determine effective approaches to improve outcomes. His email address is

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We all know that leadership is important. It’s the primary topic of countless books, speeches, and classes. It’s the focal concern of thousands, maybe millions, of organizational managers. It’s a development area for most every employee in the world, and the one thing we believe can make or break a business, a sports team, or a country. We talk about the need for better leaders, we hear how great leadership can make great differences, and we lament that so many of our institutional leaders do a poor job of leading us.

We know that leadership is important. But something I often wonder is whether we could ever agree on what it actually is.

Imagine you were working with an exchange student from a deeply solitary culture, where people work alone for most of their lives as hermits, without any managers or hierarchy or even teams. He is confused by this word, “leadership,” and asks you what it means. How would you describe it?

A government official once answered that question by saying that leadership is power. I noted that this was a pleasingly simple and easy-to-understand definition, and he nodded agreement. Then I brought up the possibility that a robber might hold him at gunpoint, forcing him to hand over his wallet.

The robber would certainly have power over him, but it would be difficult to argue that the robber was actually ‘leading’ anyone. In the end, we agreed that there was likely more to leadership than just power.

A manager I worked with answered that question by saying that leadership is exhibited when your employees respect you, so they get things done. I told her that I liked the sound of it, but wondered whether this was really leadership itself, or the outcome of leadership? Was it possible that respect and effectiveness were the things that resulted from good leadership, rather than the leadership itself? What, then, are the actual leadership behaviors that would result in these good outcomes?

A senior corporate executive in a training seminar answered that question by saying that leadership is just treating people well. Everyone in attendance liked this definition, but I had to wonder: was that really all leadership was? Surely you could argue that treating people well is part of leadership, but is treating people well really enough to lead them? What about holding them accountable? What about getting things done, as the manager had suggested? The last time I ate at Wendy’s, the salesperson behind the counter treated me very well. Was he leading me?

A janitor at a company I used to work at answered that question by saying that leaders are servants. This was a very different answer than I was used to hearing, so I asked him to tell me more. He told me that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said that serving others is the most important definition of greatness, and that by serving others, we teach them to care about us, each other, and the world around them. Through that care, they would be motivated to go forth and accomplish great things.

Personally, I like the janitor’s answer the best. He taught me something that day.

Former U.S. President and World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower (the first American general to eat meals with his enlisted men, rather than in the officer’s tent) once said that leadership was the art of getting people to do what you want them to do, because they want to do it. And how do you make them want to do, what you want them to do? You don’t coerce, you don’t order, and you don’t merely treat them well: you ask questions, you listen, you help, and you persuade. You learn what their goals are, and you find alignment in how working toward the organization’s goals, or the community’s goals, or even society’s goals, can help you both. You provide them with the training and resources to succeed in your new mutual goals. You push them to ever-higher levels, believing in them and ensuring they have all of the skills and knowledge they need to reach their potentials. You learn from them by listening, and try to teach them what you can in turn. You build their self-confidence, and motivate them to help others just the way you, hopefully, are helping them.

Many have said that there is a leadership crisis in the world. It is difficult to argue with this statement, although this crisis is not a new problem. It is possible that the reason we can’t seem to find good leaders, is that we have not yet agreed on what a good leader is. We are drawn to charismatic and sometimes narcissistic individuals, assuming that their smooth speeches and visionary talking points are the marks of a leader, without thinking through what it is we really want from a leader. We are conditioned to see leadership as a position of power, a title to be held or an honor to be bestowed, rather than something that any of us could do, at any time, from any job. We unfortunately view leadership as something on a pedestal, something distant, rather than something that could be practiced by anyone – like a janitor.

Leadership is about putting the people around you first – being a servant – such that they collectively are able to accomplish goals that they previously could never have attempted. Leaders point the way to those ambitious goals, and help their colleagues find ways to reach them together.

The mark of a great leader is not accolades and awards, but rather that the people around her have grown and succeeded. The great leader is not necessarily the person who is elected to a political post, or the manager who skyrockets up a company’s chain of command: it’s the team member who constantly has to replace his team, because they keep growing and getting promoted.

The boss asks, “What are you going to do today? How are you going to hit your goals? How is the company going to be better, because you were a part of it?” The leader asks, “How can I help you accomplish our goals today?”

Being a boss is as simple as giving orders, promising raises and promotions, and threatening punishments. Being a leader is much more difficult, as you have to be humble, you have to listen, and you have to put your team first.

You have to learn about them, develop them, and show them how they can be even more than what they are.

Would you rather work for a boss or a leader? Would you rather be a boss or a leader?

A 5-Minute Morning in the Life of a Local TV Station’s Sales Department

Our TEAMTRI family is comprised of people from many different backgrounds and experiences. This week, TEAMTRI’s Shelby Watson shares a small glimpse into the daily life of the sales department at a local television station. We hope you’ll find this peek as insightful and interesting as we did!

Every morning starts off with a newsletter email from “Spots and Dots,” a media-buying industry term for television spots, and the dots is just to make it sound catchy. Spots and Dots discusses earnings reports for major corporations, retail industry trends from the previous month, and which major broadcast network won in ratings the night before.
The ratings report is the most important piece of information. Why? If your “numbers don’t post,” meaning if you tell an advertiser to whom you sold an ad spot that they will receive 2.4 rating points of viewers and the program only reaches a 2.0, then you have to give them another TV spot to make up for the points. These are called “make goods.” Luckily, it is abnormal not to post the numbers predicted.
One of the most interesting aspects of working in the advertising industry is knowing how much companies spend on a :30 second TV spot…then being surprised at how much business it brings in the next day to make it all worth it.

Incredible Life Lessons from Working In A Kitchen

Throughout high school and college, I worked in a restaurant kitchen. I worked in a variety of different places from a fast-paced breakfast restaurant to a high-class hotel restaurant. There are so many different benefits to working in a kitchen – from learning to cook different dishes, to being able to eat all kinds of food.

Although, being able to eat what I cooked was great, I learned a few other important life lessons along the way:

1. Preparation, preparation, preparation!

In the kitchen, we spend anywhere from 25% – 35% of our time preparing for our shift ahead. We must have all our ingredients for every dish ready. This means that every steak must be cut, every bottle of oil must be full, and every vegetable must be chopped and ready. This early preparation will prevent you from needing to complete these tasks when you face a restaurant full of hungry people!

Learning to prepare has one of the best lessons to learn. Preparing for events or activities before they happen will help you avoid getting frantic while at an event or activity. Preparation will set you free to enjoy your event or activity.

2. Listen to the needs of the person you are serving.

While cooking, I had to learn that I must listen to the person that I was serving. Whether they asked for a steak to be medium-rare, asked for no salt on their fries, or they asked for gluten-free bread, I had to pay close attention to their needs. You never know when someone might have a food allergy or what they might not like. Serving someone a dish that they might not like or could hurt them can make for a terrible experience for everyone.

As a leader, you must listen to the needs of the people you are leading. They might be saying that they need help with a task or they might be telling you that they would prefer to do something differently than planned. As a leader, you should be able to listen and react to their needs.

3. Teamwork makes everything easier.

This one might sound obvious – yes, you want to work well with other cooks in the kitchen so no one gets hurt around the kitchen equipment. However, there  are plenty of other people you must work well with to succeed in the kitchen. There are the servers that take the customer’s order, the dishwashers that wensure that you have clean pots and pans, and of course the other cooks in the kitchen.

When you can rely on others to help you with needed and others can depend on you, it can make the job a whole lot easier. There will be times when you get overwhelmingly busy, but great teams can rely on each other to push through these tough moments.

Bon appetit!




5 Golden Practices of Exemplary Leadership for the New Year! #12DaysOfLeadership

Welcome to TeamTRI’s 12 Days of Leadership! From now until Christmas we’ll be celebrating the holiday season by sharing 12 days of powerful leadership ideas, resources and content. We hope these articles get you in the holiday spirit and ready to go lead the world to greatness! Today’s article is by Kayla Loomis (@TeamTRI_Kayla).

Are you looking for a way to enhance your leadership skills in the upcoming year? Check out these Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership and you’ll be well on your way to being the best leader that you can be this year! These five practices were developed after years of researching effective leadership by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and are sure to help you perform your personal best.

1. Model the Way
One of the greatest ways to lead is to lead by example. Think about how you act as a leader in your community. Do you dress professionally and appropriately at all times? Act respectful and kind to others? Help those who need it? Think about the impact that you have on others because as a leader, people are looking up to you at all times, whether you realize it or not.

2. Inspire a Shared Vision
Do you often have great ideas that you are passionate about that you know will make a difference? How do you get the people that you lead to have that same vision? Commanding people to work towards your vision isn’t likely to be successful, you have to inspire others to share the vision that you have! You can do this by learning about your peers and what speaks to them and their interests, by being enthusiastic and positive about your idea, and by showing how your vision works to benefit the entire group.

3. Challenge the Process
Effective leaders push ideas and projects forward in the face of adversity, whether that’s in the form of outside circumstances or internal inefficiencies. Maybe you’re doing something that has never been done before – think about how you will inspire your peers towards the goal with passion and enthusiasm, especially when others think that there will be too many challenges to face to achieve the goal.

4. Enable Others to Act
You can’t expect yourself to do everything on your own, so how will you engage the people you work with to accomplish the goals of the team? There are many ways that you can Enable Others to Act: give others the resources and training needed to accomplish the task, listen to other’s ideas, show interest in what they have to say, and offer help when you can. Show everyone that you genuinely care about them and their goals, and encourage them throughout the process of achieving them.

5. Encourage the Heart
Sometimes the process of reaching a team’s goal can be long and challenging. Everyone needs encouragement at some point and to know that their contributions are valued. Make sure to praise exemplary work when you see it, and take time to get to know the people that you are working with. A little praise during a tough time can go a long way toward accomplishing your goal!

Those are the five practices as outlined by Kouzes and Posner. Which one speaks to you the most? Let us know in a comment below, or tweet us @TeamTRI to continue the conversation! The #12DaysOfLeadership series will continue all the way through Christmas!

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Lessons From Losing: The Four Things I Know To Be True

There are three things that I know to be true in life: my name is Valerie Caña, I am currently eighteen years old, and I just broke $200 worth of Christmas cat ornaments at the store I work at in a matter of six seconds.

A lot of my peers might know me from before as that girl who was a DECA State Officer for wayyy too long or as a former National Officer candidate from Nevada. Both of those were acceptable. But now? Well, now I’m just the clumsy sales associate who decided to defer college for a year. I believe I did awesome things in DECA, but honestly the titles I received back then don’t matter anymore. It’s in the past. I am irrelevant, and I’ve come to terms with that a long time ago.

Since I was invited to write this article, I’ve been struggling to come up with “THE END-ALL, BE-ALL” ultimate leadership lesson that summarizes everything I learned in my CTSO career and maybe help raise your spirits to the land of success.

Unfortunately, I possess no knowledge of the secret of life, nor the key ingredient of becoming a great leader. In a perfect world, I would have won DECA Executive Office, gone to a top college on a scholarship, and still be relevant enough to be featured on this awesome blog. Instead, I just remember crying against the concrete wall of the Closing Session room, watching a different reality take place instead of my dreams. So as you can see, I can’t exactly tell you how to be successful. I, myself, am wobbling on my own rocky path. But I can tell you, despite my seemingly failures, why I am inescapably and undeniably happy:

I decided to be.

There’s a lot of room for joy once you cry out all of your sorrow. The morning after our national conference ended, I waved all of the members of my organization goodbye and emptied the millions of used tissues out of my purse. Then, I ascended the elevator back to my hotel room and chose to enjoy the way the sun’s light stretched across the floor and onto me. I packed my bags and chose to love how my DECA blazer looked wrinkled into a tired heap and how my heals were scuffed with the memories of running all across Orlando. I chose to admit my defeat, and then I happily chose to take the path that completely contradicted my original plan.

I took a gap year. Not even an “exciting” gap year abroad or working on a farm on the East Coast. I stayed where I have always been and got a job I really liked…for no legitimate reason other than that life was tremendously great that I could make my own decisions.

My family and friends were quite shocked. I had always been the person they expected to be extremely accomplished, trying to do big, extravagant things every single day.

“No,” I told them, “I’m just a human being and I kinda wanna take a break.”

I’m not saying I wasn’t happy when I was in DECA. Of course I was ecstatic doing all those cool things standing under the spotlight. But when I woke up that one morning and the sun shone so brilliantly during my time of loss, that alone told me that this was still my time. I can do everything and I can do nothing, and it can still be a great day.

That said, YOU can do everything or do nothing, and have a great day. It’s important to realize that yes, you can absolutely move on and do crazy big things, but there is also a joy in taking time to rest and to experience the smaller aspects of life. There are many paths in this big world of ours, and sometimes you have to stop in the middle of the direction you’re moving to notice the million other directions available to you. Not all are major roads to mountaintops. Some are tiny detours and bumps in the road. And others are the in-betweens of a journey where you just have to sit down for a bit and love the world around you will keep on going. All is good. All is life.

I quite like this “small somebody” I am today, because it lets me feel how large our universe is and how wonderful every minuscule detail of it is. It’s the small things like how my best friend calls me in between her busy schedule, how my sister includes me by asking which headphones to buy, or how I can now afford to treat my parents out to dinner. What I never noticed before has become so incredibly significant. Even laughing together with strangers at the bus driver’s joke is miraculous to me.

We can be people who are larger than life, always doing something, always chasing our dreams into oblivion. But when we stumble on the ground, we don’t have to suck up our pride and get right back up immediately. Instead, I encourage you to lie back for a while, reflect, and see that life is probably a lot larger than you expected.

I decided to be happy in life, and that meant to be easily impressed and appreciative of every encounter. It meant to let go of what I wanted, and grab on to what the world had always had. I think it’s pretty cool to stop for a moment and feel fulfilled just by how alive and decent the world is around you. Especially to someone like me, an eighteen year old klutzy sales associate, things like are pretty awesome.

I suppose that’s the fourth thing I know to be true.

Valerie Caña is a former three-year DECA State Officer and a talented, inspirational young person. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.