The Leader in YOU

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At our January 13 When She Speaks event, we talked about the importance of Communicating with, then Connecting and then Engaging people. Certainly these are all actions which leaders do well. But it had me thinking, what does it take to be a leader?

  1. There are projects where you’re not involved and your leadership is not necessary. You’re not a leader there, and shouldn’t be.
  2. There are projects where you’re not involved, but your leadership would make a huge difference. Which projects might they be? What value could you bring? Is it a priority for you to actually get involved?
  3. Some say that it’s intelligence alone which makes the leader.  But I say that if you’re intelligent, yet not open to other ideas, people and viewpoints, if you’re intelligent but not willing to work hard, you’re not a leader. You’re more a ‘Prima donna‘. I mean that in the nicest way, and I want to have compassion for people who are in this category, because I’ve been guilty of being that way before as well. It’s people who think that they are right and always right and too good, smart or superior to be open and hardworking. They are people who may not want to learn a new and better way of doing something, or people who use the data to prove that their own ideas and methodology is hands-down the best way with no exceptions. The rest of us, may not be as intelligent, but we are better leaders.
  4. It’s clear that being open and curious makes one more receptive to change and therefore better learners. But being open to all change and all learnings every time, all the time is going overboard. That’s like being a flag in the wind. It’s what my friend from Colombia calls an ‘Eggplant‘ – someone who takes on the flavor of the dish, without her/his own taste. You will need to be intelligent about what to integrate and how to implement changes. You need to work hard to make sure that the change is the right one, that the change will stick.
  5. In addition, it’s great to be hardworking, but being hard-working by itself is not sufficient, unless you also have intelligence and open. Consider the ‘Worker Bee‘. They are industrious working on someone else’s plan, without much thought, and without necessarily being open to a new way of doing something. This adds great value and has its place. There are times when what you need is mostly worker bees…
  6. Now to combine the qualities above. If you’re intelligent *and* open, but not necessarily hard-working, you’re a princess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It feels good to be smart and open and powerful and privileged. But sometimes, you also need to be hardworking.
  7. If you’re hard-working *and* intelligent, but not open, then you’re a ‘Steward‘ – someone who has learned from many past successes and works hard to maintain these successful processes and systems. The down-side is that sometimes, these best practices no longer apply. So people must be open to new ways of doing things when change happens.
  8. If you’re open *and* hardworking, but not being intelligent, then you’re a ‘Wanna-bee‘. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being that way. You’re open to others’ ideas and plans and work hard to implement them. But sometimes you have to be intelligent and courageous enough to speak up and provide feedback and input and ideas to the current plan. Leaders reach for that bar, at the appropriate time.
  9. The Leader brings all three together – the intelligence to understand opportunities and challenges, the openness to learn and integrate new information and circumstances, and the work ethic to make something happen, despite impossible odds.
  10. Nobody is always any one thing all the time. But I hope that this post helps you understand your current mindset and the mindset of those around you. So that we can reach more strategically, more consciously to be the Leader in each of us.
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