Christmas is generally a time of serious reflection for me; the time when I force myself to pause and give consideration to the things that truly matter in my life. Currently, my passion for mentoring and coaching others continues to be top of mind. In the words of one of the most iconic female leaders whom we all truly admire, “when you have worked hard and done well and walked through that door of opportunity, do not slam it shut behind you. Reach back and give others the same chances that helped you to succeed”. These powerful words of wisdom spoken by the one and only, First Lady Michelle Obama have undoubtedly had a profound impact on me this year. I felt compelled to invest time to share and mentor others with the hope of influencing their own decision to take one step closer to achieving their professional goals.
By no means a writer, I took the decision to step out of my comfort zone to create a Blog where I share personal “Life Lessons”; offering practical situations and events that impacted my career, in addition to noteworthy words of advice for other aspiring professionals.
Leading With Purpose
Driven by this passion, I realise that maybe Maya Angelou was on to something when she said that “as you grow older you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” My inspiration and commitment to sharing content on the blog and across my other social media platforms comes with the hope of inspiring and influencing others through real life experiences. The specific focus on those important soft skills was by no means accidental. Time and time again, it is being highlighted by business leaders that these personal qualities and soft skills continue to be lacking within today’s workforce. Sadly, this skills gap is holding many persons back from professional growth and career advancement, even when they have great potential.
A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else believed they could.”Zig Ziglar
The most gratifying experience as a business leader must be watching others grow and blossom into well-rounded, driven and passionate professionals, knowing that they had a hand in shaping their career journey. As leaders, we must remain committed to the professional development of those under your care, while mastering the art of providing timely feedback and encouragement. Staying committed to helping others take their performance to the next level augurs well for building other impactful and successful leaders. It is the leader’s duty to help others unleash that hidden talent that will allow employees to reach their fullest potential.
Not Always An Easy Road
Leading people is by no means a walk in the park! How do you convince persons to see what you see in them or at least to visualize themselves a couple years down the road? This right here is the true leadership challenge and quite frankly can come with much frustration; requiring a great deal of commitment and discipline on the part of the leader.
Fostering strong relationships with individual team members is paramount to achieving any real success. People need to know that you genuinely care before they place trust in your intentions. Once the trust factor has been established, you are more likely to have an impact on those employees with a growth mindset. In contrast, team members with a fixed mindset will require a daily dose of energy and commitment on the part of the leader if they are to make any real strides in getting these employees to see and take positive action towards their growth potential. Can this be frustrating for the leader? Heck yes! Should they throw their hands up in the air and move on? Definitely not! If you genuinely wish to see employees move to the next level, then you must be prepared to have those candid conversations, while creating a practical and proactive action plan geared towards affecting real change.
The Trust Factor
There is no single approach or secret weapon that I can recommend for untapping the potential or hidden talent you see in others. John Maxwell reminds us that “as leaders we must be close enough to inspire and far enough to offer candid feedback”. Leaders that are not genuinely people-oriented tend to struggle to build trust and consistency in their efforts at helping others to grow. The sad reality is that there are many insecure leaders out there, which only contributes to toxic work environments. This type of boss is more concerned about his or her own job security than helping others to reach their fullest potential. Holding back important information or keeping team members out of the decision making process are just a few of the strategies deployed by this type of boss. In my view, this style really should not be classified as leadership since it only stifles the true potential of others. Leadership is all about people!
Authentic leadership calls for leaders to be vulnerable and sometimes the best way to influence and inspire others is to share our own personal journey. Practicing the art of “storytelling” as a leadership tool helps to show employees that they too can accomplish their goals, which remain within their reach.
Our role as leaders is to inspire, build confidence, empower and encourage others to believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to, supported by a degree of discipline. Staying committed to helping others create meaningful growth plans that help to shape both their personal and professional journey is the trademark of successful leadership. Will you always get it right? Will every team member make the connection? Not at all, but the ability to spot potential in others and successfully inspire them enough to take any real action, is truly a remarkable experience.