Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ten Lessons of Leadership

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I’m fortunate to be asked to do a fair amount of public speaking. It’s something that’s really enjoyable and rewarding; especially when you can get a group of people engaged and talking about the topic at hand. Recently, I was asked to speak about the lessons of leadership. As you know, the topic can fill a book; more like thousands of books because everyone views leadership a little differently. So what lessons did I share? 

Have a vision. The old saying, “if you don’t’ know where you’re going, you’ll never get there” is true. But your vision shouldn’t be so narrow that you miss what’s going on around you.  

Be excited. Be passionate. Have you ever seen an unexciting leader? The answer is most likely ‘no.’ People will follow those who believe in what they’re doing and have a positive, upbeat attitude. Attitudes are contagious.

Share what you know & share the spotlight. It’s not just about you. Help others learn and achieve and share the spotlight. All of us know people in leadership roles who never give credit to those who did the work or came up with the idea.  Those leaders generally don’t last long or, when they have a problem or challenge, no one steps up to help.

Deal with problems and challenges head on.  This one can be tough. You will have challenges, problems and things that don’t go right. As much as you may hope the problem will go away or fix itself; it rarely does.  It only gets worse if you ignore it.

Understand the realities of a situation. This is the companion statement for the previous item. I’m not saying let the naysayers get to you, or let others rain on your leadership parade, but you do need a firm grasp of reality and how it might impact your business or your life. 

Constantly learn.  If you’re not learning, you’re being left behind.  Change is constant and you need to embrace it.  Don’t chase every bright shiny object or trend du jour; but be aware of what’s new and what you need to learn.  Then do it!

Know who you are. As a leader, self-awareness is key. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses and your core values. Listen to your gut instinct about things. Get help or assistance in areas where you don’t feel you have the right skills or abilities.

Understand that not everyone is just like you.  There can be a tendency for leaders to think everyone thinks like them. To be an effective leader, you need to understand and embrace the differences among your team members. 

There is such a thing as Karma.  Just because you’re leading a project, a company or even your own household, don’t be too full of yourself or run over others to achieve your goals. Karma has a way of coming around and biting you.    

Work-life balance is a myth – and that’s OK

Sometimes your personal life demands most of your time and sometimes it’s work that takes up your time. Just don’t do one or the other exclusively or excessively for too long.

So there are my 10 lessons of leadership.  Do you agree or disagree? What would you add to the list?

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