In this installment of Leadership Voices, Dr. Donnelly talks to Jamie Ross, a Silver Leader with Young Living Essential Oils, as well as wife and mom to her crew. She leads a team of a few hundred other independent distributors and has some fascinating thoughts on the balance between horizontal and vertical leadership. Only 3% of YL staff reach the level that Jamie has, and after speaking to her, I’m not surprised she’s achieved such success. Her dedication to the product and to her people is so clear and that kind of vision and leadership takes intentionality and time. Below is a bit of our conversation about the motherhood, leadership, business and life. It’s been edited a bit for length and clarity.
So, how would you describe your leadership style?
JR: I am very driven and I’m very direct. I’m very, I hate to say this, I sometimes say authoritative because that’s my personality but I don’t mean it in a brash way, does that make sense?
KD: Yes, absolutely.
JR: One of the things that I’ve spent a lot of time on is personality tests and mindsets and methods and studying those. One that we use a lot in Young Living is color personalities. I’m very red, which is very driven and very right, like red people always think they’re right [laughter] and very outspoken for the most part. We’re also very focused on the task.
For me, the biggest part of leadership has been to understand the personalities around me, and what I’m not and how that’s okay that I’m not the other things. We all have a little bit of every shade of personality in us, but we can’t all be everything all the time, and our natural tendencies will win out. But knowing and understanding the personalities around me helps me lead because then I can speak their language.
KD: So, this sounds to mean that this knowledge is learned behavior and that you’ve had to grow with it as you’ve moved up in the organization. Is that fair?
JR: I think I’ve always had a good sense of people. I learned it early on from life experiences and from being in different educational and occupational experiences. But now I have a better and more solid language to define that and more of a framework to understand what it is and how I’m relating to people. I can be more intentional.
KD: That makes complete sense! Both a natural thing and a point of constant growth. It sounds to mean that YL is a place where a lot of different styles can thrive.
So, from your perspective, what are the tools needed to be successful?
JR: You need to be willing to work. And above all, I tell my people that you have to love people first of all and then love the product second, and those things have to work in tandem. However you best love people and incorporate the products into your life and then tell people how you really use the product – that’s success. But that looks differently for me then it does for my teammates.
So this authenticity is core to your business self. What about your motherhood self? Are there any connections there?
JR: [laughs] Oh, absolutely! I have to learn my children, especially as they grow up. Leadership in my home looks like humility so that I can empower my kids to be both who they are and who they will be. That’s a hard balance, because they need to make mistakes to learn those things, they need to hurt and they need to loose friends, and I know that, but I don’t want them to be destructive to themselves or others in those lessons. So I have to be less authoritative sometimes, and invite them to come up with their own solutions.
KD: Everything you just described is how I talk about working with teams of employees. “I want you to thrive here, but you can’t actually make that promise to the client, so let’s work together to come up with where we go from here” and then if the employee refuses to be part of the team, there are consequences to that choice. So clear leadership cross-overs!
My final question is about external voices. Who are you listening to in order to grow your leadership? Books, podcasts, TED talks…
JR: Full Spectrum Success, which talks about the color personalities. Lindsay Teague Moreno, because I resonate with a lot of what she says about motherhood and business. She has a podcast called Boss Up and I definitely recommend that.
KD: Well, fantastic. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Jamie!
JR: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
This is an entry in our series “Leadership Voices”. Leadership is such a dynamic discipline, and we are so fortunate to know so many students of that discipline who are in so many different roles that we wanted to feature some of them. We at AR have always found that learning is best done from others, and personal stories are easier to glean wisdom from then theories. If you'd like to participate in Leadership Voices - through writing your own blog or being interviewed - then contact us here. We're looking for a cornucopia of opinions, so please get in touch!