Tag Archives: leadership

Leadership’s Dirty Little Secret

15th May 2013

There’s a dirty little secret I’m learning about leadership: you’re likely already a leader, whether you like it or not.

Whether you are leading to inspire, leading to drive action, or leading to drive people crazy, well, that’s the part you control.

Chick-fil-A’s annual leadership conference, Leadercast is hands down one of my favorite annual events. As I wasn’t able to attend this year, I found myself eagerly following along via Twitter. The Tweets alone shared a powerful message: Simply Lead. Simply Lead was the theme for this year’s event, and the funny thing is, each time I read the tagline, I found myself reading it as “Lead Simply,” a small tweak, but one that I couldn’t help but stop to think about a little further.

I tweeted my little conundrum and received this in reply from a colleague.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 9.28.05 AM

I think he hit the nail on the head and lead to even more thoughts rolling around in my head.

 Simply Lead.

A recent conversation with another colleague of mine lead to a conversation around leadership, roles and the growth for the future. As we discussed paths, she shared with me sentiments that I’m not sure I’d ever really, truly accepted: you are leading right now. There will always be someone watching, a conversation somewhere taking place and an opportunity unfolding, it is how you define yourself in those small moments that build leadership skills. In a nutshell, if you want to hold the keys to becoming a leader in your organization: simply lead.

 Lead Simply. 

To simply lead is only part of the equation. If taking the reigns and helping to calm the chaos is the starting line, defining the route to the finish must be the next 26.2 miles. Leadership is, for a lack of a better word, leading me to two things: humility and patience. Humility is the action required to take a step back and serve those around us.  If we expect to better ourselves, we must first tend to the needs of others. As for patience, success and triumph aren’t a matter of winning the lottery, they are the result of dedication, hard work and the flexibility to alter as we go. If we expect to lead simply, we cannot expect the journey to follow the straight line of a guidebook or some pre-determined path up the corporate ladder. Becoming a leader is a team effort in order for each of us to become successful. In other words, it’s going to take a village.

It’s quite funny how a day long leadership conference can be boiled down into two words and leave such a stunning impact. I think those guys are on to something.

*Disclaimer: While Chick-fil-A is a client of mine, all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. However, I am just as flattered and enamored by those chicken guys outside of the office each and every day.

10 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Now

7th March 2013

If only it were that easy...but it sure is pretty. Source.

If only it were that easy…but it sure is pretty. Buy this guy

You might have noticed an uptick in my thoughts around careers, leadership and purpose in the past few months. I’ll let you in on a little secret, this week, I wrapped up a six month women-only leadership program. And it was awesome.

I’ve been incredibly blessed in my short career to have been surrounded by awesome bosses, friends and mentors. However, around a year ago, I started noticing a gap. I needed, for lack of a better description, girl talk. Because let’s be honest, as much as I’d love to tell you that all is equal between boys and girls, it’s not. We are different creatures and to no surprise, sometimes we just need someone to share that with.

Enter Pathbuilders. I’ll save my elevator pitch on the program itself for another post, but after one such conversation on life and careers with a leader in my life and my need for something different, he asked me to check it out. After ten minutes on the phone, I was sold.

Six months and many, many mentor conversations later, here I am. So what did I learn? A lot.

My top 10 biggest takeaways:

  1. Bosses aren’t mind readers. If you want something, you have to ask for it. Be vocal and make your feelings and desires known.
  2. No one is more invested in your career than you. Invest in it now. Spend time making Rory Gilmore style pro-cons lists. Figure out what you want to accomplish tomorrow, next year and in 10 years from now. It doesn’t have to be right, but start thinking about it.
  3. Leaders aren’t made by being the loudest one in the room, leadership starts with listening.
  4. Be. Confident. Be confident in who you are, how you speak and how you present yourself. Only you own you. As Tim Gunn would say, make it work.
  5. Money matters, job descriptions matter, clients matter, but culture trumps them all. At the end of the day, you want to love who you work with and where you spend your time. Money ain’t gonna buy you happiness after a 50+ hour work week.
  6. But…do know your worth. Network, get to know others in your field, learn your strengths and where you can improve. I love my job, but that does not mean I should ever stop keeping an eye out for what everyone around me is doing. It’s not only good for my position, but strengthens my value to my employer as well.
  7. Take your emotion out of the meeting. This is a tough one for me. I’m a pretty passionate person, and I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t cried at work before. However, this piece of advice is one I have certainly put into action. Make decisions and conversations around facts first, feelings second. Anyone can rebuttal the “I think” moment, they cannot do the same when you share results.
  8. No results + excuses = no results. Manage others’ expectations and then exceed them. Spend your time finding solutions, not telling everyone the problem.
  9. Give and ask for feedback, and do it often. We can’t expect to improve without open, honest dialogue. You should never wait until an annual review to find out if you are succeeding.
  10. Enjoy the ride. No one has it all figured out. We are all human. It’s OK to not know where you want to be in 10 years from now. The important part is actively working towards it.

I honestly wish every single women starting her career had the opportunity to experience such a program, but just like those post-college graduation realizations, the experiences count beyond the classroom. Go out there and do something about it.

Leading by Following

2nd March 2013

Saturday morning (or in my case around noon) runs outside are quite possibly one of my favorite parts of the week. Over the last few years, these mornings have progressed from dreaded training runs with strict milage goals to casual time on the trails to step back and enjoy some time by myself – whether that be three miles or 10.

This morning, I brought along my favorite running buddy, a sixty pound little pup who also happens to love exploring just as much as I do. Atlanta is surrounded by some gorgeous hiking trails, which once we are far enough off the beaten path, lend the perfect spot for some leash-less sprinting (shh, don’t tell the park rangers).

My running buddy, she's also quite the soccer champ.

My running buddy, she’s also quite the soccer champ.

As we wound about amongst the trees and the mud, I found myself tailing behind my little girl at times and calling for her to join me when she was distracted by a chipmunk or two and had to stop for a sniff at others. Leaders and followers we were.

A mentor of mine and I had a discussion a few months back about leadership not being a title that one is given with age, job description or pay grade. It is something we embody in every daily interaction in which we partake. Leadership means accepting humility and trusting those around you. It is building the talents and confidence of others and encouraging them to carry on and improve.

We often look to becoming a leader in the form of managing others – the same way a master would expect a dog to behave on a leash and do as he/she is told. However, it’s easy to tell a dog to stay with you when they are attached by a rope, it’s another exercise to let them go and watch them stay in your path.

When you build up those around you, turn over your trust and your faith to another, and follow their lead; you just might find yourself becoming a leader who enjoys the view from both sides of the path – something I’m learning to love.

Leadership is certainly not a virtue that develops overnight, whether that be on a dirt trail with a dog, or in the office with coworkers. It’s something we all have to work for, every step along the way, and I must admit, following a little pup through the woods, might be the best form of leadership I can think of, not to mention added growth and endurance for both of us.