This is the final blog of the things I have learned as a leader. I hope you have enjoyed the 30 lessons that I have discussed. If there are any other lessons that you have learned, please feel free to share them!
The most effective leaders are vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a weakness but rather a strength that can help you build trust and form candid relationships with your team. If you are honest with your team members, they will be honest and candid with you. One of the best leaders I supervised never tried to fake a weakness. Instead he demonstrated courage by admitting his developmental areas and acknowledging them to his team. He admitted he wasn’t perfect! He never asked his team to do something that he was not willing or able to do with them. Another great benefit of vulnerability is that it breeds innovation and creativity. Teach and model to your people how to fail fast and fail forward. Establish a culture that allows failure so people can grow.
Leaders must be focused and develop the skill to stay focused. This requires saying no to distractions. It requires taking action to reduce distractions that do not lead to desired outcomes. It is a conscious practice of doing the things that keep your mind in the present. A recent UC Irvine study showed that it takes up to 23 minutes to recover from a distraction. It is easy to chase the new, shiny object and to lose focus on what is important. One author said, “The likelihood of being distracted is directly related to the amount of pull something is having on your attention and indirectly related to the interest you have in your task. When you’re completely engrossed in what you’re doing, you’ll shut out everything around you.”
Find simplicity in complexity by conquering complex challenges or situations. The worst thing you can do is ignore complexity. I remember attending a company meeting where all of the deliverables and challenges were outlined. This was a company that was skilled at finding and living with complexity instead of simplicity. I had been leading a team in this market for several years. After the meeting I met with my team. Everyone looked confused and overwhelmed. The first thing I said to them was “If I hadn’t been in this market space for several years, I wouldn’t believe that we could do the job!” With that comment everyone relaxed and we talked about how we could simplify our approach.
It’s not just what you know, its who you know. Gain allies throughout your career. Networking is about helping other people who will then help you. An attitude of service and adding value lends to great networking. If you give your time, expertise and knowledge to others, many will reciprocate. Remember that the person you connect with will already have a network they can share with you. Think LinkedIn. When you connect with someone, you can tap into his or her network. I have been fortunate in my career to have met and connected with many people that I have been able to help and who reciprocated by helping me. If you have not been networking, start now!
Gratitude begets humility. Leaders who take the time to appreciate what they are grateful for have a better chance of being anchored to the present. They are more in touch with what is happening around them because they have taken the time to recognize the good things that are impacting them. Gratitude helps you develop deeper relationships and personal connections with people. Personally I like being around leaders who are grateful and humble. It makes me appreciate their skills and accomplishments.