Before I get started, I’d like to say that this post isn’t meant to be about me bragging or tooting my own horn. But, let’s be honest, if no one is going to promote you, then you gotta promote yourself so: TOOT TOOT!!
When I was younger, I wanted to be a Concert Violinist (I know, right?!). Then, I decided that I wanted to be a Sports Psychologist. Once I got to college and realized I could major in Film, well then all I cared about after that was somehow working in the entertainment and media industry…so far, so good on that one. As I thought about what I wanted to be, the word “leader” never came up. This didn’t mean that I didn’t want to be one, I just didn’t think about it.
In high school, I was either asked or voted to be captain of a few of my sports teams. Throughout my life, I’ve also been asked to lead certain groups and chair committees, all of which I was honored to be a part of, so I obviously accepted the roles. But at first, I was always reluctant to say yes. The only times I have voluntarily wanted to do anything “leader-like” were when I wanted to take a few leadership classes. It’s weird that I wanted to learn to be a leader, but when I was actually asked to be one, I hesitated. Why was I so reluctant to lead?
It’s possible that I sometimes got, and still get, a case of imposter syndrome and I temporarily freak out. “Dear god, if I’m captain of this basketball team and I have a bad game, what are my teammates gonna think?”, or “am I REALLY qualified to co-chair this Business Resource Group? What do they see in me?” Self doubt and fear sometimes rears its ugly head.
But as I thought about all of the situations where I’ve been asked to lead, I’ve come to realize that, I actually LIKE being a leader, and damn it, I’m pretty good at it! I still have a lot of work to do, but here are some things that I try to do to make myself a better leader:
- I tell myself every morning that I’m the greatest human ever created and everyone should want to be me…kidding.
- I hire people who have skills that I don’t have. Teams work better when everyone can learn something from each other.
- I consider everyone teammates. I’m only the boss when you’ve done something wrong 🙂
- I try very hard to teach and not tell. Showing people how to get things done empowers them and gives them the ability to then be able to do it on their own in the future. OMG learning to delegate was SUPER tough when I first became a manager! Can anyone else relate??
- I believe in failure because it’s a good way to learn. I let my teammates know it’s ok to fail and then I work with them to correct, improve and learn from the situation.
- I believe in tough love (not everyone may agree with it!). For this, you can thank my high school and college coaches, Beth, Jen, Tana, and Pete. I push people to try harder and think differently because I know they’re capable of great things. I refuse to just give a teammate an answer to something when I know they can figure it out themselves. If they’ve exhausted all options, by all means, come to me for help…but also come with recommendations, if possible.
- I try to listen, let others speak, and observe. I learn more about people that way and can get a different perspective.
- I constantly adjust my communication style. Because I work in partnership marketing, I’ve learned the need to communicate differently to different people. Some may find this annoying, but it helps me build better relationships. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all mentality. Believe me, I’ve seen it backfire spectacularly.
As I mentioned, there are still lots of things I need to work on: being humble (Ha ha, JK! wait…maybe…), being more patient, not comparing myself to others, etc. I am a work in progress, like we all are. But, I’m done being a Reluctant Leader. Moving forward, there will be no more hesitations and I will be proud to be a LEADER.
What makes you a good leader?