Characteristics of Great Leaders

For the third year in a row, Zoo Advisors has moderated a session on leadership.  This year we broadened the discussion beyond women’s leadership issues to address topics common to all current and aspiring leaders which drew over 250 participants. Thanks to our moderator and panelists:

  • Moderator - Kathy Wagner, Zoo Advisors

  • Ted Fox, Director, Rosamond Gifford Zoo

  • Laura Maloney, Chief Operating Officer, Panthera

  • Cynthia Vernon, Chief Operating Officer, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Highlights from the session included:

Components necessary for building a positive culture

  • Trust is fundamental, consistency, transparency, accountability

  • Leader is “weather maker” for team/organization

  • Leader needs to model behavior they would like – don’t email, walk across the hall and TALK TO THEM!!!

  • Open door policy MUST create a positive experience

  • Be a servant for employees in helping them meet their goals


Work Life Balance

  • Take vacation

  • Take one day a weekend with NO work

  • Get out and visit the animals/recharge

  • Set a time for project work and make sure staff knows it’s your quiet/concentration time.

  • Schedule time to reflect on work/conference, etc. after the meeting

  • Create a family culture at work

Where is the joy in leadership?

  • Success of the people you are leading

  • Seeing people thriving and working well as team

  • Taking advantage of “enrichment”

  • Nurturing/creating a career path for staff mobility

  • Accomplishing a project

  • Laughter!!

Unexpected Lessons

  • Leader should/can learn from those they lead – be humble and learn!!

  • Be patient – listen to diverse points of view

Work Life

  • Put together team goals – understanding each others jobs and the demands with each

  • Hold people accountable for their work

  • Get accurate feedback – 360 evaluations, “Leadership Circle”

How to supervise someone who has supervised you

  • Establish relationship, support them, find out what they want to accomplish and help them be successful

  • Listen, listen, listen

  • Is lack of motivation mission fatigue?

If you’d like to get full results of our surveys and session findings, click here to email us