Women In Defense Tennessee Valley Chapter (WID-TVC) hosted Ana W. Franklin, Morgan County Sheriff, for our 2016 Mentoring Series: Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Goals on Monday, November 28 at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Sheriff Franklin is the only female sheriff in Alabama. During her presentation to WID-TVC, she shared her experiences and advice as a leader, noting there are always obstacles in leadership positions. Obstacles of our followers become our own as well, whether real or perceived.

Sheriff Franklin looks at every obstacle as an opportunity for leaders to show what they are made of. Consider her key steps to effective leadership in the face of obstacles:

  1. Have an answer for the “Then What”? What is the next step that comes with your decision? Reactionary leadership is risky, but in times of crisis, it is typically necessary. Often times, Ms. Franklin noted, you can overcome one challenge and create an even bigger one. Every decision we make has a counteractive effect. When possible, it is essential to respond versus react. Timing often makes the difference between failure and success.
  2. Learn to say no. Learning to say no is handling an obstacle. Learn to say no when you need to, and back it up with the reasons why. Consider the ultimate mission or dream, what it takes to make it a reality, and how to get your whole team on board not only with the end goal, but with the “why” for the decisions you make as a leader to reaching the end goal.
  3. Listen to your followers. You can only gripe up-chain. If your followers have a problem, issue, or better idea, take the time to listen to them and consider their thoughts and opinions.
  4. Be transparent. Leaders must be able to face negative obstacles head on with utmost candor.
  5. Don’t take negativity personally. Jealousy is one of the worst obstacles leaders must overcome.
  6. Prepare for obstacles. The higher up you go, the more obstacles you face. Do your best to prepare for those obstacles ahead of time.

In closing, Ms. Franklin advised potential leaders to be prepared to put in hard work, stating the end goal and mission has to be worth the sacrifices you will make and the obstacles you will face.

“If we are going to take a leadership position, we must be prepared to handle it mentally, physically, and emotionally. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman,” Franklin said. “If you are in a leadership position, you have to work harder.”

Check out this clip from the event: video