I’ve been doing a lot of reading on leadership lately, and it has made me reflect on what type of leader I was before I became a solo-consultant. I thought sharing my insights with you might get you thinking too.
I never considered myself a great leader. I thought I could manage my team well, I kept on top of priorities and what everyone was doing, but I never really considered myself a “leader”.
I made a lot of mistakes when I managed my government communications team.
- My expectations were often too high.
- I expected perfection
.Ididn’t listen enough.
- I didn’t give recognition enough.
- I sometimes lost my temper when things went wrong (or I was under stress).
- I had a low tolerance for failure.
- I didn’t like anything
torisky (in case we failed)
- I was told I was scary, intimidating, but really I was just putting on a brave face.
I think one of the biggest realisations I had was that I didn’t call out poor behaviour, instead choosing to avoid conflict. Both the behaviour of my staff and others. In a team primarily made up of women, I saw and experienced some deplorable behaviour by men in the office. I didn’t do enough. It wasn’t until #metoo that it became really obvious to me that by saying nothing, by not wanting to rock the boat I was part of the problem. I let the behaviour of others impact my team.
I was pretty tough on myself thinking about all of the mistakes I made. I reflected on all of the things I would do differently as a leader, now that I have had time to read more, had more capacity to learn and some space to think.
I wanted to share some of the things I learnt through all of my reading over the past year.
No one is perfect.
What makes a good leader is wanting to be better. Wanting to learn. The drive to understand not only the theory of what makes a good leader but also how to actually put it into practice. It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
There is no ‘one size fits all’
I have found some of the books I’ve been reading so inspiring (list at the end) but have also learnt that in leadership there is no ‘one size fits all’. You can’t be Brene Brown or Simon Sinek. You aren’t Stephen Covey or Steven Jobs. You are you. You should be the best leader you can be, but it needs to be your own way.
A real leader is authentic, they stuff up, they make mistakes, but they keep trying.
Learn from others
You are never good enough not to learn more. Look around you who do you admire as a leader? Ask them to go for a coffee and learn about their style. Find a coach or mentor. Read and then read some more. Or (scary) ask your staff for honest feedback.
The way you become a better leader is by wanting to be a better leader.
What does it mean to be a leader?
I loved being part of my team. It is the thing I miss the most now I work on my own. I thrived on brainstorming sessions with my team, coming up with new ideas or solutions to problems together. I loved our late night chats where I would inevitably end up laughing so much I cried.
I loved watching my team grow and develop – I have seen some great success stories. Executive Assistants or trainees joining the team and then deciding to do a communications degree because they love it as much as I did. They are now thriving, many leading their own teams, and continue to make me so proud.
Maybe that was enough to make me a leader.
I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown recently – talk about being vulnerable. Phew, that was a hard article to write! But a little self-reflection never hurt anyone.
Leadership books I have been reading:
- Permission to screw up by Kristen Hadeed (I loved this book! Read it)
- Start with why by Simon Sinek
- How women rise by Sally Helgessen and Marshall Goldsmith
- Winging it by Emma Issacs
- How not to give a F*&k by Mark Manson
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown (I won’t lie I found this one the most confronting, it took me about a month to finish it)
- Seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey (an oldie but a goodie)