As I continue my quest to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic, I recently signed up for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate hosted by the University of South Florida (USF) Muma College of Business. This course attracted over 100,000 registrants from all corners of the world eager to learn more about this topic in our workplace. I realize that as a leader of my diverse department, I need to seek creative ways to become better educated.
The initial module was moderated by former NFL player Derrick Brooks. This module captivated my attention with the analogy of the business and sports world. As a customer service manager, I asked myself these critical questions during the course of the module:
- How do I get the best out of my team?
- Am I empathetic to my team’s needs?
- Is there trust? Because if there is no trust, there is no team.
- Am I bringing my full authentic self to work?
My management experiences have molded me into an empathetic manager because of my personal situation at home. The art of caregiving is constantly challenging and preparing me for the unknown. This past year, I do realize that I am more sensitive to my staff’s needs, and try to accommodate their requests within reason. Everyone on my team is a valuable player and treated equally. Collectively, if we want to achieve our goals, we have to help each other. By being empathetic, I am getting the best out of my team. I take the time to get to know each one of my staffers, and I have developed a powerful rapport that embodies trust in our professional relationship.
Another important concept leaders must keep in mind is servant leadership. It is a known fact that egos divide and separate individuals, ultimately destroying relationships. It is necessary that we set aside any ego we may have, especially in a leadership role. After all, it is less about you, and more about serving others. The Customer Service and Constituent Services Department under my leadership thrives for excellence and has collectively achieved 99.8% customer satisfaction. This has occurred because our team has set aside any egos and differences to focus on serving constituents.
As government leaders, I encourage you to keep one simple thing in mind: “If attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?”
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Usha Tewari is a first-generation Indian-American born and raised in Orlando. Ms. Tewari has over 14 years of experience working for elected officials at the federal and local levels. She currently works full-time in local government managing 13 individuals and is a caregiver to her mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. In 2019, she was Orlando Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” with her advocacy efforts. In her spare time, she devotes herself to advancing Alzheimer’s/Dementia awareness at the grassroots level in her community as well as Tallahassee and Washington D.C. She serves as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Congresswoman Demings.