Yvonne Prang, Senior Director Global Rewards Center of Excellence at McDonald’s, leads a global team of Rewards professionals across 19 countries. She is passionate about driving transformational change through People and delivering impact to the business. Delband Tamjidi, Associate Consultant at Frazer Jones in Düsseldorf, speaks with her about leadership skills and career development.
1. What are your secret ingredients for a successful career?
- Working hard and getting the right things done. Deliver on your promises, contribute to business results.
- Know your most important stakeholders, and what they need from you. Who do you need to work with to get things done, achieve your goals? Where are your mutual interests, and opportunities for collaboration? Who can you help to achieve their goals and ambitions and who can help you? Then talk about your achievements to the right people to build your personal brand. Who do you want to speak positively about you when you are not in the room?
- Talent, and building expertise over time. Nobody is an expert from the start, but you can become one over time. It takes curiosity and courage. Curiosity to go outside your comfort zone, to learn and grow. Curiosity helps you to develop your talent and become really good at what you do. Ideally, you love what you are doing as you will get a lot of satisfaction from that. It takes courage to try new things, to go new ways – and the resilience, or grit to try again if the first attempt was not so successful.
- Empathy for the people around you, you work with. They may be colleagues, employees, managers, stakeholders and customers. The ability to put yourself in their shoes, to see the world from their perspective and identify their needs and preferences to exceed their expectations is what makes all the difference.
2. Where do you stand on developing employees who are happy in their role?
When you are passionate about something, when you love what you do, there is a ton of energy around it – you are completely in the “flow”. You get things done. You connect with people. You widen your horizon and dare to go outside of your comfort zone and expand it. In short, you grow.
I always recommend to any individual to find the aspects they love about their role, their job, their company, their team – and to cherish them. Seizing every opportunity to create more of those experiences. Everyone can shape their current role in that way. The brain is a funny thing: when you consciously focus on what you really like about your role and appreciate what you have, you will become more satisfied as you build a positive mindset. This can even be accelerated by taking action to positively influence and expand your current role. That’s when growth is actually really fun and gives you a lot of extra energy.
I firmly believe that employees should be clear about their vision for their career, and their values, and they should be doing what they love in order to build a satisfying career that is right for them.
As a manager, I don’t develop anybody – my role is to support employees I lead or mentor in finding out what is right for them and helping them on their journey to develop themselves.
3. What are the most important skills, in your opinion, a leader should have?
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader (John Quincy Adams)
I believe that leaders should share the fame but take the blame and never should ask someone else to do something that they are not willing to do themselves. Leadership is not a contest in popularity. You might have to make some tough decisions. Those decisions should be lead by values and principles you firmly believe in and that hold up under scrutiny.
Be approachable and empathetic but at the same time hold people accountable to give their best and to deliver results.
Leaders have to develop their listening skills, hear all arguments, and challenge their thinking. Leave your ego at home. It’s not about you, it is about solving a business problem. When a decision is made, you as a leader need to see it through and you need to take your team with you to make it happen.
Seize opportunities to learn and grow. Be honest with yourself: where are your development opportunities? What are you doing well, where can you use your strengths? What can you do better? Who can help you with it? Who is really good at something you are not that great at? Who can challenge you to think differently, brings in a different perspective? Look for diversity of thought, of experiences that do not match yours and learn from them.
Finally, humour goes a long way – don’t take yourself too seriously and be ready to share a good laugh once in a while.