Leadership Lessons

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Leadership Lessons
Many leaders find it very difficult to show vulnerability. In many cultures, it is often mistaken for weakness. When we demonstrate vulnerability, we reveal our most authentic selves.

Peter Drucker once said…“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Indeed, Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. Most people still confuse leadership with a  persona of authority, aggression, and extroversion.

I have been fortunate to observe and learn from many leaders across the world and through experiences of my own. My own leadership style over the years has gone through several transitions, owning to several coaching moments from mentors and learnings from several failures along the way.

Today,  I find a deeper meaning to what leading really should be. I find it pertinent to share, what I have learnt to be or Not as a leader!

Self Awareness

It always starts with self. We need to take full responsibility for our own actions, behaviour, and impact on the lives we touch. That is the most basic difference between a leader and a revered leader. You cannot lead, till you don’t fully understand and acknowledge your own self, your own strengths, and your developmental needs. Being self-aware is being present with your own feelings and character.

While practicing is about understanding why you feel the way you do, and why you behave in a particular way. leaders’ behaviour can leave a deep impact on their teams’ confidence and ability to succeed. It is the first step towards recognizing and addressing our own dysfunctional behaviors.

The more we understand ourselves, the more effective we will be in leading. Have you ever paused to reflect, on how other people view you or how you show up at work? Take the time to reflect, seek feedback and act upon it. The most powerful leaders, I have worked with have the humility to seek feedback and made visible changes towards self-improvement.

Trust Vs Micromanagement

It is the single most important currency in building a strong team. I have made a rule for myself, I will trust you till you give me a reason yourself to stop trusting. Building trust takes time and consistency.

When we foster a climate of transparency, fairness, and accountability, we create space for creativity, genuine intent, and collaboration. Trust is empowering. It leads to a sense of responsibility. Often times when I have trusted and believed in someone and their potential, they have always surpassed my expectations.

Micromanagement kills creativity and makes the workplace very stifling. As leaders we should not fall into the habit of micromanagement, instead let leaders lead.

Vulnerability and Authenticity

Many leaders find it very difficult to show vulnerability. In many cultures, it is often mistaken for weakness. When we demonstrate vulnerability, we reveal our most authentic selves. A side that has no facades and pretense. The moment we do that we break barriers and build a safe environment of trust, openness, sharing, and deep-meaning relationships with our own team.

Being vulnerable and showing oneself to others is actually a sign of courage and self-confidence in a leader. It allows us to open up about how we feel and in turn, helps us feel less alone or isolated. It allows team members to recognize that leaders are as human as them.

They too have moments of weakness and make mistakes. Many times, unknowingly, we may hit a chord with someone, and that itself may become a defining moment for them.

In one workshop, one of the leaders shared her struggles and how she made choices. Till date, those words inspire me when I have to make choices that mean stepping out of my comfort zone.

Learn and Unlearn

The world is constantly changing, and so is the talent construct. When you are leading teams representative of diverse experiences, age groups, gender, ethnicity, values, thoughts, and aspirations, one style does not fit all. Even as an individual, we need to change with time, and embrace new and different ways of operating and leading.

If we are not able to re-wire our mindset, attitude, and behavior, we need to be ready to become irrelevant and redundant. Today leadership is about collaboration, collective wisdom, and advancing together.

Power of Collective Wisdom

This brings me to my biggest realization, individually we can do some things well, but together we can actually do great things. Gone are the days, when expectations from a leader meant, you are supposed to have every answer, every solution or you need to be the most intelligent (yet to meet someone who can claim that!) Today, it’s about dividing and conquering.

As a leader, have the wisdom to leverage the strengths and expertise of the team and channelize them well. Help the team to take good decisions together. The Covid crisis was a great learning for me. None of us knew what to expect and what to do. While brainstorming with my team, I put forward a challenge to them on how we virtually engage and uplift the morale of our employees during lockdowns.

I was amazed at the creative thinking, outcome, and passion with which the team took the challenge and delivered, with minimal resources. When teams are given the space for creative freedom and accountability, greatness is delivered.

Ego and Insecurity

Decide which is your biggest enemy, both will eventually land you in a similar fate. A leader’s role is to rise above such negative emotions with a single-minded focus to uplift and inspire your team. When leaders operate from a space of ego or insecurity, their judgment and objectivity get clouded.

This invariably leads to poor and biased decisions. Instead as leaders, we should make conscious efforts to recognize, when such feelings are triggered and find ways to correct ourselves. Leaders who focus on self-development, building their own confidence and self-worth are able to grow as leaders, individuals, and earn respect.

I have personally performed my worst and been disengaged when I have been led by people with such traits. It leads to a toxic culture and we end up losing our best talent. Let go of these from your personality and see how everything changes for you and your team. Leadership is a constant journey of self-discovery, learning, and gratitude. It is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences.  

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