Lee Anne Crockett is an experienced and motivated general manager, and leadership and career strategist. She has gathered years of experience in fields such as “sales, business development, project management, and customer acquisition.” She has also spent a significant portion of her career in human resources, logistics, finance, operations, and safety, becoming a well-rounded business leader. Her experience and success in leadership and developing a team and company culture has also given her an impressive track record in these areas.
As a leadership expert, Lee Anne Crockett has spent over ten years leading teams to their full potential. She has displayed passion in connecting genuinely with the people she works with, as well as working with them to achieve their mutual goals. While working for different companies, she has “created and implemented formal training programs for employee development and career progression.” About this effort, she says she had to do it because “they simply didn’t exist.”
Lee Anne Crockett also knows the pain of being passed over for promotions despite applying for it every time. She had tried “different leadership styles, working later each day (even on the weekends),” but nothing worked. Many of her colleagues, particularly men, were being promoted over her. So, over time, she hunkered down and developed a system that would enhance her leadership skills, her teams’ skills, and show the light to an eventual promotion.
To help others find success in their careers, Lee Anne Crockett has also started her own consultancy. She wants to “make a larger impact with female leaders who feel that their organization has not invested resources into their training and development,” as well as female leaders who believe that “they are capable of more.”
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Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Lee Anne Crockett: My coaching practice is founded on the fact that women (specifically women of color) are underutilized, undervalued and overlooked in the workplace. They are ignored. They have been taught that their voices don’t matter and that they aren’t as smart or influential as everyone else. They are underestimated and have been denied a seat at the table. I believe that these women not only deserve a seat but are capable of being the head of their own tables. My mission is to empower these women to break through the glass ceiling by cultivating their leadership skills and understanding the unwritten rules that are at play in terms of career advancement in our society. I focus on the “how to” tools of leadership development and employ a 4-step methodology for corporate career advancement that allows women a fair shot. You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules and that’s what I teach my clients.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Lee Anne Crockett:
- Recognize the warning signs.
Burnout can sneak up on you. It comes at a time when you, your mind and your body get used to being worked to the bone. Speaking from experience, I know to take a second to evaluate the situation when I start feeling the following: anxiety, not wanting to work, apathy, cynicism, constant exhaustion, and lack of pride in my accomplishments.
2. Prioritize your mental health.
When I recognize the warning signs, I know that it’s time to give my mind a break. I plan short walks throughout the day (5 or 10 minutes during breaks), listen to music to help calm me down, plan for some self-care, like getting my hair done or a massage, or just an evening on the couch watching tv — anything that can help zen me out.
3. Set boundaries.
While I’m working on self-care, I also need to set boundaries. Saying no is hard to do, especially if you are a people pleaser, but saying yes to someone else means saying no to yourself. So practice it! No, I can’t cover for you this weekend. No, I can’t help you review the report. No, I can’t stay late tonight. No, I can’t meet that deadline with such short notice. Be kind to yourself and make yourself a priority.
4. Know when it’s time to go.
Sometimes, even after working on work/life balance and setting boundaries, things may not improve. That’s when it’s time to decide if you need to move on and find a situation that better works for you. It’s a difficult decision to make, but I have been there. Once I was able to see that staying in the current situation was harmful to me and my health (mentally and physically — burnout affects both), I left and never looked back.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Lee Anne Crockett: Professionally, I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of one of my closest friends, Bieke Claes. We pursued our MBAs together at Babson and became fast friends. She is always supportive of my entrepreneurial spirit and tries to connect me with any relevant opportunities that come her way. Early on in our friendship, she connected me with Dreamers & Doers, which is an online collective for extraordinary entrepreneurial womxn, founded by Gesche Haas. Dreamers & Doers provides community to womxn who share similar experiences and who help level each other up in every way possible. Since I joined the collective, I have made life-changing connections. I found my business coach through their directory. I was able to conduct market research for my business and have even gotten clients through referrals from other members. Dreamers & Doers has showcased my offerings and provide a safe space where womxn can not only dream big, but can realize their dreams through each other’s help.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Lee Anne Crockett: Delegating as a leader allows you to involve your team in your work. This not only helps the leader by easing the burden of the amount of work that needs to be done by one person, it allows the employees to demonstrate their stretch potential. On more than one occasion, I have taken over teams and found that I inherited several promotable employees. They had never been given any attention or assignments that allowed them to showcase their additional skills, so they had constantly been overlooked. By developing talent in this way, a leader is also building their bench. This means that when they are ready to move to the next step, they have an employee ready to step into their role without a huge learning curve and without requiring extensive training to get them prepared.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Lee Anne Crockett: People like being in control. Having control gives us power and authority over people and over the situation. We like to feel like everyone is looking to us for answers and for direction. The more we give up this control in favor of a more collaborative environment, the more each person involved shares the responsibility of the outcome and that can be difficult to manage.
Additionally, we also like to be the hero. We don’t like asking for help or accepting the fact that we need help. We don’t want to seem weak. We want to prove that we can do everything by ourselves without any kind of struggle or delay in deliverables. We want to be known and praised as the wonderkid and don’t always want to share the spotlight.
I don’t say this to say that we go around with nefarious agendas — much of this is subconscious.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
Lee Anne Crockett: In terms of mindset, it’s important to always view ourselves as teachers. It is our responsibility to our team members to invest time and energy into their growth and development. The more we invest in them, the more they shine, and the more they shine, the more that light, in turn, illuminates us and our talent as a leader. Additionally, a lot can be accomplished by planning — knowing which employees need more time and instruction and which can take an assignment and run with it. Planning developmental time with your employees in advance of having an important deadline will eliminate the need to worry about the results and the timeline of the project. Knowing you have already been developing their skills allows you to trust their performance when timelines are tight and more is at stake.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Lee Anne Crockett: The future is female and I believe specifically that supporting black women and their businesses is the cornerstone of achieving financial freedom, empowerment, and decision making abilities for future generations. According to an article published earlier this year, black women represent almost half of all new women-owned businesses (about 42%). While black women are opening businesses more often than other women, they are closing them almost as rapidly. We have seen this evidenced by the recession and again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the businesses that survive are generally much smaller and make much less revenue. According to American Express, black women-owned businesses in 2019 earned an average of $24,000 compared to $142,900 for all other women-owned businesses.
Black women need the playing field evened and barriers removed. We need support: funding, education, experience, exposure, networking, mentors, coaches, allies, childcare, eldercare — the list goes on. And we need a place, a person, or a company that can provide us with these tools without having to search Heaven and Earth –oftentimes giving up mid-pursuit — to find them. I would love to start a company to make a dent in this area and help black women-owned businesses achieve the success that they deserve.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Lee Anne Crockett: You can find me on my website at www.leecrockett.com, as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn at Lee Anne Crockett.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!