Associate Director for Leadership Development Offers Students Three Tips to Maximize Their Potential
“Great ideas and innovations come from people who ask: what if we do it a different way?”
Joseph Briody ’86, UConn’s associate director for leadership development, still uses the background knowledge and skills that his accounting education gave him, but in non-financial ways.
After being a public accountant for a few years, Briody found his way to nonprofits, but did not find the work as satisfying as he expected. When Briody was offered a job at UConn, as an internal auditor, he took a chance at returning to his alma mater.
“It’s more exciting than it sounds,” Briody said. “It allowed me significant access and insight to people, departments and information.”
After five years, Briody was offered a position in the Student Activities Involvement and Leadership Office, a new department that was essentially in its infancy.
Briody and his office support the 650 student organizations on campus, including performing groups, fraternities, student governments and many more. His office provides the training, speaker series and certificate programs that student leaders need or want to become their best.
“Having accounting skills will serve you anywhere you go,” Briody said. “I’m not an accountant anymore, but I still carry with me the skills I learned at the School of Business. In addition to basic budget skills, I’m still able to analytically and critically assess our financial viability.”
After 15 years spent cultivating and kindling the leadership potential in students, Briody learned a few things about being a successful leader. He shared his best tips below.
1. Don’t assume you need a title to be a leader.
When Briody holds leadership workshops and talks, he usually first asks the attendees to list top characteristics that make a great leader. Usually people assume that leaders have titles, positions or power.
“We usually try to encourage people to get away from that type of thinking,” Briody said. “Lead by your actions and interactions with your peers, friends and families. Then, people aren’t forced to follow you, they want to follow you.”
2. Don’t be afraid to get out of the box.
“We have a structure and culture that everybody falls into doing. We want to advance, to please. It is too easy to fall into the grind.”
Briody said the best ideas come from people who ask “what if?” or “why not?” Asking questions like those will earn the confidence and experience to make us happy, he said.
3. Move somewhere else.
If “getting out of the box” inside the office isn’t working, Briody says to widen the box. While Briody was a public accountant, he moved all around the country.
“Do things you’ve never done before. Become introduced to other people and expand your perspective on life to grow networks,” Briody said. “It will make you a happier person and a better employee.”