My name is Kathryn and I’m a series-a-holic…. Probably NOT what you would image a post about leadership to begin with but it will make sense in a sentence or two….
This past week my series addiction has brought me back to Suits… Hello Harvey!! And while watching it I’ve been seriously considering a new career in law. Only jokes… I just want Donna or Rachel’s sexy pencil skirt wardrobe (and figures!!)
While watching back to back episodes of the Harvey/ Louis competition I started thinking… What makes a leader a leader? Why do people willingly follow, and ultimately agree to, anything Harvey Spector says, but roll their eyes every time Louis walks into a room?? OK besides the fact that he is ridiculously annoying??
And, more importantly, how do you become someone that people automatically respect upon meeting you, rather than a person who never gets heard?
Natural leaders are a breed apart. Their success and ability to inspire have nothing to do with the cars they drive, the clothes they wear or the jewels they flash, but rather with the way they behave. (Although I do think Harvey looks pretty darn good in a suit!! )
Leadership isn’t something that they’ve achieved and then lived off the spoils. Their capability, competence and insight drive them to keep reaching new heights and doing extraordinary new things.
Fortunately, success and leadership skills can be learnt, which is exactly why I’ve been really enjoying my monthly meetings with a group of like-minded women trying to make the most of their careers, whether they are working for a large corporate or are an entrepreneur building their own small business.
Based around the book Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, these “Lean In” groups have been popping up around the world and I’m fortunate enough to belong to one. Each month we meet to discuss various topics, we support each other in our career journeys and watch insightful video’s on various topics that we then discuss. I, for one, am benefiting greatly and definitely making strides in my own personal development around the topics of success and leadership! If you haven’t yet read the book I encourage you to do so, and then I really recommend joining or starting a Lean In group of your own. Us women need to stick together and encourage each other to “lean in” and make valuable contributions and courageous decisions daily!
To inspire you, here are Top 10 Things Leaders do Differently – a list of the various behaviour traits that many successful business leaders have in common…
1. They think beyond innovation
True leaders will always try to find ways of doing new and better things rather than just improving on the same old stuff. Steve Jobs took Apple from being a computing company to a telecommunications and music giant because he had the vision to think beyond what was in front of him.
2. They stay abreast of news and trends
What do Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Barack Obama all have in common? They all start their day by reading the news. No leader lives in a bubble.
3. They are not preoccupied with titles and qualifications
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both dropped out of college. Forbes magazine has a great article about successful college dropouts that’s worth a read! Success, leadership and vision are not dependent on qualifications or titles and true leaders know this. Truly great leaders such as Richard Branson want people to disagree with them and to present their own, better ideas on how to improve the business they work in.
4. They work hard
Although they might not have a degree, great leaders are not afraid of hard work. In fact, they often dropped out of college to get on with their big ideas. While they do try to achieve a work-life balance (and some of them even succeed), they’re also the first in, the last to leave and often keep working from their homes.
5. They love what they do
Leaders do what they love and love what they do. By being fully invested in their work and their working relationships, they are spurred to keep growing and developing. They work hard because for them, there’s often no place they would rather be. And their enjoyment has a trickle down affect – others are inspired and motivated by them.
6. They are communicators
Great leaders know that to get the best out of everyone around them, they need to communicate clearly. They make a point of being present and focused when they are spending time with others. They know how to clearly explain what they want or need and listen to the wants and needs of others.
7. They see the bigger picture
While leaders pay attention to the small details, they are not bogged down by them. They never lose sight of the bigger picture that they are working towards.
8. They have faith in others
Rome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly wasn’t built by a single Roman. Modern-day Caesars know that they need the support of vast teams of colleagues, employees and associates. They are happy to let others do the work that they are best at and they give them credit when it is due.
9. They have integrity
True leaders are decent human beings. When you get right down to it, people are more impressed by humility, compassion and warmth than they are by wealth and success. Leaders who have made their way to the top have done so without trampling on others and they often take others up with them. They care about their families, their employees and their planet.
10. They take risks
Leaders know that true success, invention and inspiration lie in breaking boundaries and scaling new heights. Leaders think hard and long, but they never err on the side of caution.
Not all leaders display all of these characteristics all of the time but by reading through this list you should get a picture of how they think and operate. If you want to become a leader, an entrepreneur or even just a small-time success at something you really love, identify which of these traits are your strong suits and start working on getting them to work for you. One of the top tips in Lean In is to focus on what you are good at and become excellent at that rather than trying to improve areas you are mediocre at – rather employ someone who is great in those areas!!