‘Leadership’. It is a word that is thrown around workplaces all the time but sometimes with so little thought. I am a leader and there are many days when I wish I could sneak into my office, hide behind my desk and leave all that leadership business to someone else! Because being a leader is a significant responsibility and at times it can be both lonely and exhausting.
When it comes to leadership I have read widely, studied my mentors closely and engaged in courses and study. And despite all of this, for me, it comes back to one simple statement- I always aim to be the kind of leader that I would love to follow.
I recently was asked to provide my thoughts on ‘leadership’ in the workplace but in writing this piece I came to think about leadership in the broader sense- in our relationships, in our families and within our communities. We hear a lot about the importance of leadership to success in business but so little about leadership and success in our broader lives. We are often all leaders in some aspect of our lives and for me, whether it is at work, at home or out in the community at large, a great leader is the one that I want to chase after, be like and follow to the top of that hill! They inspire those around them to bring their best in any situation.
In my daily work as a lawyer I have the privilege of working with a wide array of families- some who amaze me and some who face challenges that make me feel entirely helpless. But the one thing I have come to know is that a great leader- a great parent, husband or wife- can and will have a huge impact on where that family ends up (particularly before and after divorce)
I am a lawyer and it is a profession I am proud to be a part of. But there are leaders in my profession that I would never wish to follow. I am sure this is not just the case for the legal profession- I am sure there are many leaders in business and in life that do little to inspire those around them to follow them.
And then there are others, those leaders that I would happily drop everything and sprint after if there was the opportunity to follow them. So when it comes to those hard days where I wish that I could hand over the leadership baton to someone else, I think of those leaders that I have come across that I would happily follow. I ask myself, ‘What would they do?’ and I tend to find the answer lies in one of these three things-
1. Be courageous- Leading a team, a household or even a group of friends will take courage. You will find yourself facing challenges that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone, let alone yourself, and you will need courage to get you through. On those hard days when I wish I was anything but a leader, I find myself taking a deep breath and just diving in. If there is anything ‘uninspiring’ in a leader, it is a leader who refuses to deal with the challenging situations. So sometimes it is better to just get in there and give it a go, rather than sitting back and hoping whatever you are facing will just disappear because in my experience, it rarely goes away without some sort of courageous prodding!
2. Be authentic- For me this is the most important trait of any great leader. To enable those around you to really believe in you, you have to be yourself. And to enable those around you to know that you are being yourself you will have to let them get to know at least a little about who you really are. When life is giving you lemons it is okay to show some honest emotion. It is also essential to turn those lemons into margaritas as quick as you can and if you stay true to who you are, you will ensure that those around you will follow you selflessly. Authenticity is magnetic and an essential trait for a great leader.
3. And Inspire- there is a saying- ‘Great leaders inspire greatness in others’. Leadership at the end of the day is all about inspiring those around you to join you in your crusade and more importantly, to start crusading for you! The capacity to inspire others is no mean feat but it begins with having passion, setting out a clear vision and then plotting a course to get you (and your family/ team/ friends!) there. The better you can set this out, the greater chance you have of inspiring those around you to set out on that course even on the days when you may not be at the helm of the ship!
We all have the ability to be leaders in our own way. For some of us it is in the workplace and for many others it might be in our homes, with our families and sometimes with our friends. No matter where we are, the capacity to inspire those around you to follow you is a beautiful thing. Every day we have the opportunity to inspire those around us, it is just that perhaps only a few of us really set out to do so. And so each day, I remind myself that I want to finish the day being the kind of leader that I would follow to the end of the earth and back, especially on those days when I would prefer to slide in under my desk and not come out until well after 5pm!
What do you love in a leader? Get in touch or comment below and let me know who has inspired you to follow them to the top of one of ‘those’ hills!
Freebie for you to kick of 2016
So here you are- your very own 2016 ‘Happiness Calendar’. You can download your own copy, print and plan away!! Now it has been designed to be printed on A3 sheets but will still work on A4 (it just may be a little harder to read!)
So get printing and keep an eye out for your monthly ‘happiness challenge’ as you work through the weeks!
Download your copy here-
To a very ‘Happy’ 2016!