This past Friday was the 105th episode of the Good Leadership Breakfast. Our featured guest was Mai-Anh Tran, Associate Vice President of Philanthropic Services with the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation.
Mai-Anh Tran grew up as the youngest of four children, whose parents moved the family from Vietnam to the United States when she was two years old. And ever since then, she’s been breaking barriers and busting through ceilings in her career choices and how she lives her life.
“I grew up wanting to be Connie Chung!” she explained, making an obvious reference to being an Asian woman in broadcast television. She migrated away from TV journalism because the lifestyle was not conducive to raising a family.
Today, she is a smashing success in leading teams of people who are raising and distributing money to people in need. The subject of our interview evolved around the theme of the fall series: Good Leadership is a Team Sport. That’s also the title of my most recent book.
Mai-Anh shared three of her success habits – things she’s learned to repeat in her leadership, because they really work for her – with guests intent on improving their team leadership:
- Everyone needs to feel recognized, valued and heard. She reminded us all how every perspective, from every person on the team, makes the team better. It’s the leader’s #1 job to encourage recognition and celebrating accomplishments – both inside and outside of work.
- Strength and courage means “speaking up.” When people feel valued, they will speak up. With so many people working on many teams at once, it’s really important that everyone feels the courage and obligation to share what they are seeing and feeling – without fear of retribution.
- Use process to keep the focus on goals. Clear roles and responsibilities is critical to high performance teamwork. Creating that clarity is harder for leaders and team members who are more emotional or relational in their approach to teams. In this situation the word “process” means a structure to ensure everyone knows where they fit, why they matter, and how their work contributes to the success of the team.
The Good Leadership Podcast recapping the October 2023 breakfast with Mai-Anh will be live later this week. Tickets for the final episode of 2023, featuring Archie Black, the celebrated CEO of SPS Commerce, are available here.