Romaine Seguin, President of UPS Americas Region, shares her thoughts on setting your vision and its impact on effective leadership.
Whether your goal is to be the best part-time supervisor in your department or to be CEO of the company, either is fine. Just know what you want. “Define your sky” is the way Romaine Seguin, President of UPS Americas Region, puts it.
“A leadership goal can be modest or perhaps be a reach-for-the-stars ambition. But you first have to know what it is in order to achieve it,” she says.
This philosophy has certainly worked in the impressive career of Ms. Seguin. She started in 1983 as a part-time employee at UPS; today, she is responsible for all UPS package and cargo operations in Canada and more than 50 countries and territories across Latin America and the Caribbean. Additionally, she has oversight of the UPS Supply Chain Solutions operations throughout Latin America, Miami and the Caribbean.
Ms. Seguin, who serves on the Dean’s Council for Florida International University’s College of Business, is the leader of a team of 15 senior direct reports who oversee more than 16,000 UPS employees throughout UPS’s Americas region. She encourages everyone on her team to define their sky, to be clear on their ultimate vision.
This accomplished leader, who has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work in the international business community, also recommends that you let your boss know your goal. “Tell him or her where you’d like to be next in your career,” she recommends. “Be sure to get feedback. What are you doing right? What changes can you make to achieve your goal?”
On being approachable, making a decision, learning to collaborate
At every step along her career path, Ms. Seguin has refined and developed her leadership style. But one component of her style has remained firm: She is a very approachable leader.
“People have to be able to come to you,” she says adamantly. “Quite frankly, the further up the ladder you go, the more important this trait becomes.”
“Also, as you reach new levels of leadership, being approachable means that you interact warmly and effectively with community members, that they find you a welcoming person, someone who will listen.”
Ms. Seguin shares that she learned the importance of being accessible from her own boss. “When I first started at UPS, my boss was John Jones. Among many talents, he had terrific leadership skills and he was always approachable,” she recalls. “He was always out on the floor talking to us. That resonated with me and being approachable is one skill set I would never let go.”
Learning from Mr. Jones was important in Ms. Seguin’s career. “But you’re going to learn something no matter who you work for. You learn even more from bad leaders,” she says with her easy laugh. “For instance, after I first had a key management position at age 28, I was the only woman in a board room of 19 men. At those meetings I learned what not to do. For instance, I learned it was a bad idea to not get all the facts before making a decision. I also learned that once you do have all the facts, please, make a decision! Don’t hesitate. If you have 85 to 90 percent of the data, you’re going to make a very good decision. If you wait for 100 percent, the world will have passed you by.”
Collaboration is another important component of leadership, offers Ms. Seguin who holds a degree in Marketing Management from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri and an MBA from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. “Again, this is a behavior that becomes extra important as you reach new levels of leadership,” she says.
“You become farther away from the field as you take steps ahead,” Ms. Seguin points out. “Being able to successfully collaborate with your team, your peers and the community helps you formulate the right plans to achieve the goals you have set for your team.”
How does this dynamic leader select people for leadership positions?
When working with her team leaders, Ms. Seguin has high regard for the person whose name is mentioned again and again at meetings. “I take these recommendations very seriously,” she says.
“But what I personally look for when I’m putting someone on my team is the person who has a sense of urgency,” she continues. “They take initiative, they look to the future, they’re ahead of what’s coming up for the next quarter. I don’t have to ask this type of person for something twice.”
Ms. Seguin admits she’s unrelenting about selecting only people with this sense of urgency when she’s looking to place people in leadership positions. “To me, a sense of urgency is a must,” she says. “Looking for this trait has served me well.”