Editor's note: Shelley Ahrens is a finalist of the 2022 Fearless Leader Award which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. To find out more about the awards click here.

Job one for me is to put people in the best position to help them succeed. It’s never about me. I dedicate a significant amount of time to developing my teams and I do this in an encouraging, empathetic, empowering and authentic way. I always make sure to listen to employees to ensure they feel heard. Then I try to infuse their perspective into the path forward.   

I resist any temptation to “just do it” instead of “teach it.” In fact, I’ve had many employees tell me that in a moment of challenge, they were frustrated with my questioning and never giving them the immediate answer. But then in the next breath, they would tell me that they realized – after the fact – that my approach helped them grow in meaningful ways. The path of least resistance would have been easier in the short term but that would not have served them well in their development and training. And that ultimately would not serve the company or our clients well in the long term.   

Naturally, a good leader is one who sets the example for what they want to see. I work hard. I’m committed. I don’t give up and always work to solve problems. As I continued to grow in various leadership positions, I have been able to learn how to be a better leader. It’s not something you achieve and then sit back and think, “I’ve got this leadership thing all figured out.” It’s a daily pursuit, full of ups and downs, successes and learnings, but always knowing tomorrow may bring the most significant leadership opportunity yet.   

Good leaders also know that they don’t have to invent the wheel – look to and learn from the demonstrated leadership skills of others. I’ve expanded my network to surround myself with a diverse group of talented leaders. I e...