Can you remember strong examples of great leadership, during your career?
What about examples of bad leadership?
Often, when I pose this question, people remember the bad examples more. I know that I certainly do. In fact, the sad fact is that, I struggle to remember many leaders in my 15+ year corporate and entrepreneurial career that I remember as being great leaders.
I include myself within this. I used to believe that to be a leader, you had to push things through, get things done. And, if someone working for me did not comply with my expectations, I would be all too quick to judge them. As founder of two start-ups, I had an interminable to-do list and a limited budget, and everyone I worked with fell short of my expectations. I was quick to fall back on the leadership traits I observed in my corporate career and in other start up founders. Revert to telling people what to do and judging them immediately when it went wrong. The more I sought to control, the more frustration arose. By steaming ahead non-stop, I had no time to reflect, no time to envision, or inspire. And it actually slows your business’s growth.
I realise now that I had been drawing my role models from the wrong sources. To be a unique, ‘new’ leader, the answer lies within, not outside us.
I identified, developed, and now work hard every day, to be an emotionally intelligent and purpose driven leader. This does not mean that I have to be the CEO of a major corporation or running a huge company (unless I want to). You could be a solopreneur, for example. But every single one of us is trying to make a positive impact in our business. It means that everyone has their part to play as a leader to bring their vision to reality.
As entrepreneurs, we have the opportunity to inspire and lead other people (clients, customers, employees etc) to a newly imagined vision of the future. To step up as leaders and change agents.
Female Leadership & Covid-19
As Forbes and a number of other publications have rightly identified, there is a link between the countries dealing with Covid-19 the best, and whether those countries are led by women. The eight female led countries are successfully flattening the curve.
“Generally, the empathy and care which all of these female leaders have communicated seems to come from an alternate universe than the one we have gotten used to. It’s like their arms are coming out of their videos to hold you close in a heart-felt and loving embrace. Who knew leaders could sound like this? Now we do.”
Now is a time when we can start to redefine what leadership is. Maybe, our leadership style as women, is different from men. Although, I don’t want to define traits as belonging to one gender or the other. It is about uniqueness and authenticity in leadership.
4 Shifts in Perception We Need to Make as Leaders
- Know yourself. Too many of us focus on trying to be good at everything; believing that leaders should know everything. Leadership is not about knowledge; if it was, then, great knowledge would be synonymous with great leadership. Neither is it about copying others, or slavishly learning leadership skills. In fact, great leaders understand what their strengths and values are; and apply them consistently. In order to understand the best way for you to lead yourself, your team, your clients; you need to understand What, Why and How.
- Identify your strengths and abilities – your
- Identify and define your core values – your
- Understand and describe how you best operate – your
- Reimagine the word ‘failure’. Failure. It can be such a sore topic. Many will do anything they can to avoid admitting to themselves and others that they failed. That usually involves playing a ‘small game’. When you play small, you’re more likely to ‘succeed’, but less likely to take the risks that need to be taken to reach your potential. It can also paralyse you from taking necessary decisions, for fear of being mistaken. We learn more from the mistakes that we have made, than from the successes that we have had. I would go so far as to say ‘You have never made a mistake in your life.’ Life is a process of trial and error, finding what works and what doesn’t work. The entrepreneurial mindset to fail fast and move on, is crucial for us to get out there, try different things, and move on from what doesn’t work fast. Unfortunately, very successful entrepreneurs do not always talk about the challenges they faced to get there, but actually what we see is based on years and years of experimentation and experience. Failure also teaches us to have humility and realise that there is always more to learn and more ways that we can grow.
- Be Visionary, not Reactionary. When you know your way, you can articulate a clear vision. And that vision is future based, not reactionary. As a truly visionary leader, we need to allow ourselves the time and space to be clear on what our vision is. And that means what our “P” purpose is as well. As a leader, your job is not all about ‘doing’. You are more than just a worker bee. Ask yourself these questions: How do you want to impact people? What is your vision for what you want to create? As you look at what you do, for the sake of what are you doing it? A vision is not a strategy. It does not lay out the steps for you to get to where you want to go. It is your big WHY. Ask yourself if you’re excited by your vision and purpose? If not, question why not. If you can get clear, there is a correlation between the ability to create a vision of the future and the success in actualising these ambitions.
- Get back in touch with innate intelligence. Our mind is a brilliant machine. It can be our best friend, but also our worst enemy. When running a business, sometimes we will need to make decisions that we don’t know the answer to. How do we do this? Analysing to death is often not helpful. Learning to tap into our gut and innate intelligence can allow us to filter options and process them quicker.
Great leadership is nothing to do with job title. It is everything to do with the way you show up as a leader. It is about knowing who you are and working with who you are. Not being someone else.
Who are you as a leader?
Find me here:
About your author
Ready to play a bigger business game? Sara Sabin is a leadership and business coach, working with purpose driven entrepreneurs, who want to build thriving businesses that make a big impact.
You can find out more about Sara and her business here.
I am passionate about good design and women feeling comfortable inside and out. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m a multitasker and if something needs doing, I jump in. I hate rules. Knowing yourself and therefore being yourself is key to all things in life.
How often do you find yourself guessing in business? Guessing what your customers want? Guessing whether they’ll buy?
Mixing business with pleasure is always high risk, so when Lucy Cleveley and I decided to launch Discoco together, we knew there could be challenges.