Jean Block wanted to be accessible when she joined the Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority as its chief legal officer in 2016 (she has since been named CEO). 

“I’ve wanted people to know that I was a team member who was there to not be a hindrance to achieving the utility’s goals, but to really assist them in achieving what they were trying to pursue and the utility’s overall mission.” 

Block, who as chief legal officer also had oversight of human resources and the environmental affairs department, said she learned a valuable management lesson in her first six months on the job: Get feedback from employees, which can make a policy or product stronger. 

She said senior leaders had decided on an employee policy change. At the time, Block had only experienced a top-down approach to management, in which a decision is made and then told to the rest of the employees. 

But one of her C-suite colleagues said that he planned to discuss the changes with supervisors in his department to understand the policies and get feedback.

“I was incredulous,” Block said. “And I asked him why he would do that. I said that this is something that the C-suite deems necessary and should be the end of the story.”

But the colleague shared with Block the value of discussing the issue with supervisors. As a result, she said she narrowly avoided a major misstep by implementing a policy without knowing its full implications.

From that, Block said she learned “that it’s not a weakness to get input from your colleagues. In fact, it can be a weakness to not do so.”

 

This article originally appeared in Arkansas Business as part of "Lessons Learned: Women in Business Offer Leadership Advice," a story highlighting eight women in leadership positions across Arkansas. Read it in full here.

 

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