Keynote speaker Jean Steel helps define the ‘Leader in Me’

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Quoting John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, Steel said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” CSUSB’s fifth annual Employment Development Days continues Friday, June 19, on Zoom.

With the theme of the fifth annual Employee Development Days being “Leader in Me,” keynote speaker Jean Steel told those assembled on Zoom that “you don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.”

Steel, founder of Happy People Win, a wellness training and speaking firm, set the tone for the two-day virtual event on June 18 with a presentation that focused on leadership, and the responsibility each one of us have in determining our own morale and happiness.

Born the eldest of five children, Steel spent her formative years in Africa and Asia. That decade on unfamiliar, foreign soil helped her to cultivate the confidence, strength and resilience many of us work a lifetime to achieve. A born communicator, Steel’s many interests developed into her career path. She earned her master’s degree in wellness mind/body health and has been speaking and teaching across the nation for more than 20 years. Steel has also authored two books: “I’d Like to Run Wild!: A Wellness Action Guide” and “Need Change? Customer Service Tips to Grow from Good to Great.”

“So what makes a leader?” Steele asked. “There is a boss, and then there is a leader. And I think we’ve all worked with people who are really charismatic, and there for us, and who show us how to be a leader who aren’t in leadership positions.”

She quoted John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, who said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

And as the world – workplaces – slowly transition to a “new normal” as stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eased, Steel wanted to provide people with some tools to help not only to a new way of working, but also how they could take of themselves in the process.

And leadership is part of that.

“You are a leader, and don’t even know it,” she said. “And I found this quote, and I love it: ‘That moment when you ask if someone is doing OK, you’re a leader. That time when you help someone in need, you are a leader. When you give without expecting anything in return, you are a leader.”

She also listed the qualities and attributes of a leader: they ask questions of others in a given situation; they speak up; they inspire enthusiasm; they are role models; they are encouragers; they are approachable; they have an open mind; they are straightforward; and they are empathetic.

Wellness and happiness also play into the equation, and those are also in control of the individual.

Steel defined wellness as a holistic idea that encompasses the physical (one can be healthy, but not necessarily well), emotional, spiritual (being connected to the world around us), intellectual, environment and social interactions.

Balance is a major component. Steele said that when looking for people to work with her, she asks them what they do for fun, which indicates balance.

“If you sent me an email at 11:30 on a Saturday night, I don’t think, ‘What a go-getter!’ I think, ‘That’s just sad.’ You need to go out and have balance in your life. Balance is when you don’t feel that your heart and mind are being pulled too hard in any direction,” Steel said. “If you are at your kids’ soccer game and you’re worrying about work, that is not balance. If you are at work and you’re worried because you dropped your kid off with a green runny nose who is 3 years old and is in daycare, that is not balance.”

She also said that each of us is 100 percent responsible for our own happiness – which she said is a precursor to success – and what makes one person happy may not make someone else happy.

“You just can’t sit your couch and wait for the happy to come to you,” she said. Look for the good, and one way to do that is to give yourself 3-to-5-minute “happiness jolts” throughout the day. That could be something as simple as viewing a video that brings you a smile.

Steel also said we can choose between being positive and negative, and suggest the following:

  • Make a decision to have a good day. Take the responsibility and power to determine your attitude for the day.
  • Breathe – deep breathing exercises helps with relaxation.
  • Find something to look forward to, such as drawing up a list of activities to do when the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

And once students, faculty and staff are allowed back on campus, Steel reminded everyone: “It is up to all of us to improve morale. Things may never go back to normal. You may need to create a new normal. And guess what? That’s OK. We are all resilient enough. And if we’re not, we can make that resilience stronger.”

“You are part of a team that is going to ensure that the students, the faculty, the staff, the vendors, everyone who comes on campus, is going to be able to adjust to the new normal,” she said.

Steel will return to give the closing keynote at the 3 p.m. session on Friday, June 19.

The two-day event also features professional development and personal growth opportunities through a variety of workshops and a panel discussion.

For general questions about this year’s Employee Development Days event, contact the Staff Development Center at or (909) 537-3125.

About Employee Development Days

CSUSB employees are encouraged to attend this year’s conference and explore the “Leader in Me.” Employee Development Days facilitates opportunities where employees can network and build collegial work relationships through learning journeys for professional and career development, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, and technical skills training.

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