NGC Experience: Ellyn Kranc
Ellyn Kranc is five years into her professional career as a digital marketer, but she’s been working since she was teenager. And in that time, she’s already been a manager in previous roles.
But recently, at her current employer, she was in a new situation as a manager. Her direct report was fresh out of college, and they both had to find their own way.
“It was my first time managing someone without direction and set processes for how it should work,” she said. “In my previous job, those roles and relationships were well-defined. As a start-up, we’re still figuring that out.
Ellyn’s employer had already sent two other team members to the Foundation for Effective Leadership program with NextGen Center, and her manager suggested she go as well. But having only done one-day workshops or read books on leadership, she didn’t have specific expectations of the course.
“What I thought I would get out of it and what I actually got out of it were two different things,” she remembers. “What I ended up getting was even more valuable.”
When she started the program on day one, Ellyn felt out of place.
“I felt like I wasn’t in the same place in my career as the other participants. There were founders, and CEOs, and leaders of giant teams. Here I am, a mid-level manager, only with one direct report,” she said, laughing. “What am I doing here?”
But it turned out that her level of experience helped Ellyn maximize her experience in the program.
“I’m at the very beginning of thinking about how I want to lead -- thinking about what impact I want to have on the people around me. I didn’t have bad habits I needed to undo.”
One of the components in the program is a StrengthsFinder exercise. This assessment method helps individuals identify where they are most effective and where they might struggle.
Ellyn had done versions of the assessment before. But this time was different. She was able to take what she learned about herself back to her manager and pinpoint her own unique talents with data that supported it.
“This time, the exercise gave me a framework to think about growth in my career. It helped me identify needs that are being met -- and those that are not being met.” That framework then informed a conversation Ellyn had with her manager. Together, they were able to create opportunity for her to leverage her talent and serve the organization.
One of the most valuable takeaways for Ellyn was the realization that her communication and management style didn’t have to match anyone else’s. In fact, it shouldn’t. “As a result of the program, I was able to understand who I am and how I want to communicate about myself to other people -- what my style looks like. We’re all unique, and you have to do things that are authentic to yourself. Doing things the way other people told me to do them isn’t effective because it isn’t me.”
That framework of self-evaluation and feedback empowered Ellyn more than she ever could have anticipated. The program actually had her examine her current role with a critical eye. Happily, the result wasn’t a need to find a new role. Instead, it helped her validate that her organization was indeed a place where could grow effectively and offer the greatest value.
“I matured over the period of the program. I know I evolved from someone who wants to be told how to do things to finding my own way and asking feedback afterward. And that, in turn, helped me frame the conversation about my own career growth.”
That conversation helped Ellyn grow into a new role.
Learn more about the Foundation for Effective Leadership.