On a recent trip out west, I had an opportunity to meet and observe many types of leaders from all backgrounds:
- There was a flight attendant who oversaw an entire cabin of fifty passengers
- There was a barista who got out from behind her counter to assist a customer setting up an Uber account
- There was an engaging waitress navigating superbly in an overly crowded restaurant
- There was speaker and writer who generously shared her knowledge and stories
It became clear to me that although leaders bring their unique qualities to their professional and personal lives, at the foundation of each of these leaders were five critical cornerstones of leadership:
First and center stage is the importance of leaders owning their actions, behaviors and attitudes. Each individual embraced their job with professionalism and dignity. They not only wanted to perform their jobs at a high level, but they also took pride in how they were leading. Even if they were not in their ideal job, they were determined to do their best and share their talents.
When we are giving in meeting the needs of everyone we come into contact with, we build authentic connections. How can we show our generosity?
- We can go beyond our daily responsibilities and offer to help a swamped colleague
- We can share our experiences and insights in solving a problem
- We can ask someone about their family or how they spend time outside of work
- We can offer to train someone in a skill they are eager to obtain
Whether we see someone facing a difficult challenge or we recognize how we can lighten someone’s load, leaders are always willing to put their best foot forward. Although the barista was busy behind the counter, she empathized with the customer who needed to find an Uber car and didn’t know how to go about doing it. She felt she was needed and then acted with kindness. Her compassion towards what was a routine action for her turned into a gift for the worried customer.
Drive is the ability to take action and make things happen. It is the motivation that comes from within each of us that spurs us forward. When we are in a situation where we feel unappreciated or not valued, we often develop low drive and can’t seem to make decisions. The first step for leaders is understanding what energizes us and then identifying whether those elements are present in our work worlds. The fascinating thing about drive is that when faced with imperfect situations, we still need drive to get us out of our dilemmas. Here are some ways to get in touch with your drive:
- Ask yourself whether you are feeling motivated to take new action
- Identify the reasons why your drive may be “off” or low
- Brainstorm ways you could take small steps in propelling your drive forward
- Make sure to see improvement in your drive with the new actions or changes; if not, try a different strategy
- Recognize that developing drive is a process so take the time
5. EMPOWERING OTHERS
The most important role for any leader is developing future leaders. To do this, we need to help others see both their strengths and areas they want to grow. When we ask a colleague or team member to add to a project because of their unique expertise, we are empowering them to see their gifts. If we suggest that a co-worker present the results instead of us, we are showing how much we believe in their abilities. When we encourage our teammate to not only be on the client call but also share their ideas, we are empowering them to become comfortable with dealing directly with customers. All of these actions cultivate future leadership.
What values have helped transformed your leadership? How have you helped grow a future leader?