Guest commentator: Julianne Reichert, Marketing Manager, SolomonEdwards @Solomon_Edwards and member of YPC’s Advisory Board

What leadership development opportunities have been pivotal throughout your professional career? What advice would you give to young professionals looking to further advance their leadership skills?

What exactly does it mean to be a leader? In one perspective, a leader exemplifies qualities that inspire others to strive for the greatest version of themselves. During a Chamber-hosted Lean In discussion several years ago, I learned that career advancement is no longer about simply climbing the corporate ladder. We must navigate the jungle gym of our own careers to soar to heights beyond our wildest dreams.

To those who will help lead YPC after me, you have an incredible opportunity to contribute to the conversations that help drive the Greater Philadelphia region forward. With that said, I’d like to share with you a handful of the lessons I’ve learned along my own professional journey.

Be a sponge.

Learn as much as you can from colleagues in all levels and functions of the organization. While you may not be able to connect the dots immediately, this information you learn will someday add value to your own career. Depending on your source, upwards as 93% of a message is communicated non-verbally. With that said, awareness of someone’s body language, tone, and overall presence will help you.

Seek mentors.

If someone inspires you, tell them. Ask them to share insights and lessons learned from failure. Many leaders appreciate the opportunity to help ambitious professionals in their own journeys. Case in point: the Chamber’s Pay It Forward program. During its inaugural year, I was matched with my own incredible mentor, Lori Reiner. Be proactive with maintaining these relationships.

Listen to feedback.

Not everyone will be great at giving constructive feedback. When receiving it, simply remember it’s an opportunity for you to improve. Swallow your pride and accept that you are imperfect and have room to learn and grow. The gift of feedback can be a goldmine. It has the potential to uncover those infamous blind spots – what you didn’t know that you didn’t know.

Adapt your style.

Adapt your communication approach to the preferred style and cadence of clients and colleagues. Maneuvering yourself to the convenience or preferences of more senior colleagues will serve you well and propel you far.

Develop a growth mindset.

Remember those “growing pains” from when you were younger? That’s because growth can be uncomfortable. Volunteer for a project that is outside of your comfort zone or stretches your skills. Get involved with an organization that will provide professional development opportunities. While I knew networking was critical to my career, there was a time when I was beyond uncomfortable with it. After attending my first YPC event eight years ago and realizing how it could help my career trajectory, I decided to join as more than a passive member who attended the occasional event. Since then, I became a committee member, was welcomed onto the YPC Advisory Board, and served for four years as a committee co-chair.

To both current and future YPC members, committees, and advisory board members: Whatever path you choose on your own leadership journey, the future is in your hands. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish!