It's preferential to be a leader by choice – not by chance – so what happens when you accidentally fall into the role of leader? You don’t go to a school to learn to be a leader and yet through the course of a career you become more and more responsible for more and more people. If you've ever found yourself in a senior position with a team to lead and you've thought to yourself, 'How do I do this?!' read on...
My own leadership failings became loudly apparent to me when I established and was MD of a Design, Communication and PR business back in the mid 90s. I thought I knew it all, I had been leading teams for years to good effect (or so I thought!). However, I realised, when I properly listened to those I led, that my style of leadership needed some refinement – and fast if it wasn’t going to trip me up badly. So, after some deep self-reflection, I trained as a coach in order to make a more positive impact. Over time, I became passionate about leaders running themselves, their top teams and their businesses better. I have emerged from the school of hard knocks, learning the tough way what it takes to lead and how to get the most from people around me.
Because I've dedicated much of the last fourteen years to studying, learning and consciously practising better leadership I know how crucial ongoing learning is to develop as a leader. I, and you, will never be the finished product. Leadership is an ongoing project, and so dedicating yourself as a student of leadership is an empowering first step.
It's very common, particularly for new senior leaders to ‘act out’ what they believe leadership is. In order to do this they have to lose themselves in a sense of what they believe others might wish or need to see in them. This is never wise. It's very easy to spot when someone is not easily playing a role well. So, it is better not to play at all and just be ourselves. Being authentic, bringing our true selves into everything we do, is THE most effective way to create engagement and attachment with those around us (plus they are more likely to be more forgiving of us when we are inelegant in our leadership approach)
True authenticity starts with self-awareness and self-reflection. Staring earnestly in the mirror and asking:
- 'What value do I bring and what strengths do I have?'
- 'How do I interact with people; what works and what doesn’t?'
- 'What am I not aware of and need to pay attention to?'
… is tough, sometimes painful AND ultimately rewarding.
It takes a huge amount of humility to seek information about ourselves as leaders both from ourselves, and others; it takes graciousness to hear the feedback we receive. Self-reflection leading to greater self-awareness is truly powerful.
Being a leader is probably the toughest and most rewarding role you can fulfil. Knowing that it is an ongoing journey of discovery and remembering to take time to reflect will serve as great support.
I am passionate about supporting leaders to step into their true selves and develop a leadership style that is in tune with their values. If you would like to learn more about how this works simply email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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