Criteria for Successful Leaders

www.linkedin.com/in/joannlinder

I spent most of the last year as an intern with Carestream Health, and those close to me know exactly how positive of an experience I had there. From the beginning to the end of my time in Worldwide Marketing Communications, I was a fully integrated member of the team and was able to learn from some of the best in the business. My manager at Carestream, JoAnn Linder, was one that I enjoyed working for very much, and I think she is an excellent leader of individuals.

One fear that many interns have when joining an organization is that they will serve the stereotypical internship experience retrieving coffee and organizing the office space. Fortunately for me, JoAnn operates under the mantra that people should take on as many projects and experiences as they are comfortable with and ask for.

In other words, her rope extends as far as one can take it.

This mindset allowed me to become involved in a wide variety of work at Carestream, meet as many individuals as possible and learn about everything from corporate communications to social media to Salesforce.com.

Part of getting so much experience at a relatively high level, as an intern, is the possibility of failure from time to time. That was never an issue for JoAnn, though. In fact, letting people fail is something that JoAnn embraces.

Once, for example, putting a new graphical design on Carestream’s iPad app led to an issue where users could not access content properly. While it was stressful and I was worried that it would lead to negativity, I found that I was energized and simply worked as hard as I could to find a solution. JoAnn was, of course, calm and did whatever she could to help.

JoAnn believes that the way individuals recover from issues is much more significant than the issue itself. 

Another thing that I enjoyed while at Carestream was an environment of continuous education, both internally and externally. JoAnn takes professional development very seriously and took advantage of every opportunity to allow team members to grow. Attendance to community events and involvement in professional organizations outside of the office were always encouraged.

Internally, on the other hand, team members frequently shared relevant articles to help others understand their responsibilities within the organization. Training sessions were also held regularly for other employees on topics like effective blog writing and web analytics. Throughout my time with the company, a number of “Lunch & Learn” sessions were held, and I even authored a number of “Tips & Tricks” documents to help the team’s adoption rate of iPads.

At Carestream, sharing expertise is simply one component of having expertise.

I learned a lot at Carestream. But the most important lesson to learn was one that took the better part of a year to fully understand:

Empowerment + Failure + Development = Success.

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Social Media Age-Cap?

In case you missed it, here is the article written by Cathryn Sloane explaining her belief that people younger than 25 are the best equipped to handle social media efforts for businesses.

There has been more than enough backlash and anger directed at this girl in the last week, so I’m going to do my best to avoid simply repeating that. I’m also going to avoid picking her argument apart line, by line, by line – which is pretty tempting.

However, I do want to take an official stance on the topic of age in social media, both as a 20 year old college student AND as someone that plans on working in the field for a long time… even past the age of 25.

I think I have boiled my thoughts down to three main issues with Cathryn’s point of view. First is that social media, just like anything else, will never be an isolated tactic for a business. In other words, successful Marketing requires a bunch of different tactics to work together, like media relations, trade shows, direct mail campaigns and advertising.

Therefore, social media managers need to have knowledge of how a business truly operates, and how social media can fit into that overall structure.

Second – at her age, Cathryn can not possibly be aware of or familiar with all forms of Marketing. B2B Marketing is a completely different ball game. Additionally, every industry is different.

This summer, I began working in social media at Carestream Health, a global provider of medical imaging devices and IT solutions. It was new for me in many ways – my first B2B organization, my first global corporation, and my first jump into healthcare. If there is one thing that the summer has taught me, it is that I am in a completely different universe at Carestream than I had ever been in before.

When you’re dealing with products that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, things change a little bit. The purchasing process is completely different. Usually, customers need approval from boards of directors before buying anything, and price plays much more of a role than emotion does in that process. Not to mention, in healthcare, lives are at stake. People generally put more thought into the things that Carestream sells than what type of candy bar to buy in the aisle at Wegmans.

So, yes, maybe Cathryn and I and people in our age bracket grew up adapting to social media platforms as they progressed, but I certainly didn’t grow up thinking about things like dose reduction, mobile imaging, or vendor neutral archiving (just to name a few things that are pretty crucial in radiology). I couldn’t possibly operate the social media efforts for this company alone without a broader understanding of the field.

Third, it’s all about perspective. Cathryn seems to think that she was around when the revolution began, and will be around for it’s entirety. The fact of the matter, though, is that she was not, and will not be. In reality, we may have been around when Facebook opened it’s doors to the public, sure. But does anyone really think that the social revolution started with that one, single event?

If Cathryn really wanted to be around for the whole process, she would have had to witness the first personal computer, or been one of the first users of the internet. My point is, social networking didn’t just fall out of the sky. It may have facilitated and progressed the social world, sure – but there were pieces in place before Facebook, and there will be others after Facebook.

This isn’t a new concept, all technology is like this. For example, there was a time when record players were up and coming technology, and recording TV shows onto VHS tapes was ground-breaking. Obviously, those have been outdated. Isn’t it a little ignorant to think that my generation is somehow better than technology moving past us?

I am completely ready for the day that my grandson calls me an old-geezer when I don’t understand the latest gadget that he’s playing with. That’s a part of life, regardless of what era you grew up during.

Here’s the bottom line: some people get it, and others don’t. Earlier this week, I vented via Twitter about my frustration with people that don’t understand hashtags. Specifically, there’s a person that I follow on Twitter, who happens to be an older man, that frequently uses #?OfTheDay in his Tweets.

It’s shocking to me that he has yet to realize that using punctuation in a hashtag doesn’t work. In the last few months, he hasn’t noticed that none of his hashtags are clickable? Clearly, this individual just doesn’t understand.

That being said, I’ve learned a ton already this summer from a social media superstar at Carestream, who happens to be over 25.

So, no, I don’t think there needs to be an Age-Cap on social media!