Very early in my career, I often thought ‘what makes a leader’, as many of you may be able to reminisce to when you had the same thoughts or some of you may now be experiencing this very stage of ‘sense of leadership’ in your careers. We must not take our leadership, experiences, and opportunity to empower others for granted, I enjoy using my personal experiences to teach others lessons in life and in their career. As I’ve grown my career, I’ve also had the opportunity to experience various stages of leadership while understanding the importance of lifting each other up, mentoring, and advocating for others.
Here are a few examples of leadership stages we often go through;
1. The Emerging Leader – You’ve been targeted for a leadership role, now you may struggle going from ‘worker bee’ to individual contributor, and often take on the work of others. The emerging leader also at many times suffers from imposter syndrome.
2. The Frightful Leader – Oh my, I am actually over a team or person, how do I lead while I am still learning?
3. The Anxious Leader – Many times ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ , inability to connect with others and often freezing up when faced with new challenges
4. The Micromanaging Leader – ‘I need to understand what my team does 24 hours a day and be copied on every email anyone on my team sends’
5. The Friendly Leader – Thinking you have to be ‘friends’ with everyone on your team in order to be a great leader. (One of my old bosses once told me, ‘We are not here to make friends, and everyone doesn’t have to like you) (This can turn into a complete blog post on its own)
6. The Strategic Leader – Understanding your teams strengths and weaknesses and delegating tasks based on a person’s skill level
7. The Advocating Leader – Advocating for their employees for new responsibilities, promotions, raises, or internal/external opportunities
8. The Compassionate Leader – Understanding internal and external barriers team members may be facing and showing empathy for their situations. This may also include inspiring and encouraging others to be resilient in their journey
9. The Coaching Leader – Understanding each team member may not have all of the skills required, but you coach them to become better and guide them to learning opportunities.
10. The Fearless Leader – A Fearless leader operates from a mindset of abundance and high consciousness, they have the courage and ability to speak up even when their thoughts are not the same as other leaders. Someone who has the courage to fail and is resilient and unafraid, a fearless leader uses failures to teach others about career development and growth while also being a champion of advocating for others.
Now I can go on and on, and I am sure many of you have other stages of leadership you’ve experienced. While these stages are not in any sort of order to follow, it’s important to understand, you can lead in multiples stages simultaneously (Although, I must say, please do not take the micromanaging approach 😊 )
Becoming a great leader takes time, patience, resilience, and understanding. We must learn how to ‘lead from the front’ and from ‘within’.
I’ve compiled some tips for emerging leaders or those currently in leadership based on my career experience.
What Makes a Good Leader?
- Understanding – How your department/industry impacts your world of business (also understanding the various areas other than your expertise).
- Being Innovative – Understanding what is currently being done and how you can make the technology or process better.
- Agility – the world is constantly changing, staying on top of trends/processes and ways of working.
- Delegation – Being a leader does not mean you are a ‘one-man show, you have to understand your team and each person’s strong points to delegate appropriately.
- Upskilling – The willingness to continue education and stay on top of industry and technology trends and build a diverse ‘tech tool kit’.
- Communication – A leader needs to be a great communicator so that they can establish trust.
- Ownership – A leader takes ownership and understands the value and the deliverables
Adapting Over Time as A Leader
Over the last 10 years, the role of a leader has changed in many ways. One of the main changes is the understanding and commitment to Diversity Equity and Inclusion. Leaders are more cognizant of the importance of building diverse teams and having diverse voices in a conversation. Being a leader is also composed of understanding social issues and how these issues may impact their team’s mental health or performance. Leaders should be in tune with their emotional intelligence and how they respond to others internally, externally, and to the team.
Insights Every Business Leader Should Know
The following insights are vital if you are wanting to become a leading influencer in the business world.
1. Networks (Your Network is Your Net Worth)
- Surround yourself with like-minded people; never be the smartest person in the room.
- The Follow-Up – Look at your network, when was the last time you followed up? A vital key to building and growing relationships.
- Mentorship – Having a mentor, you can have more than one. Remember you should always have an internal and external mentor when building your personal board of directors.
- Invest in yourself and your people – Continuing education/business conferences
- Perfecting your soft skills (communication, emotional intelligence, time management, etc)
3. Being Authentic & Self Aware
- Being in tune with your emotional intelligence.
- Show up as your authentic self and be self-aware.
- Ask for feedback and learn to take constructive criticism.
- Self-Advocating – While you may have mentors and allies, remember to speak up for yourself as well.
- Self-Reflection – Revisit your goals & celebrate your success.
- Leadership does not equate to a title; it’s more about your actions, behaviors, impact, and influence.
- Embrace your past failures – Use your missteps to guide others.
4. Giving Back
- Showing up on a community level, not only monetarily but reaching back to mentor and guide others.
Understanding that respect goes beyond how you speak or treat those in leadership positions; respect your team, colleagues, and most importantly, yourself.
Leaders must be lifelong learners and stay on top of industry trends. They should also build diverse teams, be aware of social issues, have a strong network, and be self-advocating. Lastly, leaders should give back to their community.
I would love to hear how your leadership journey has changed over the years.