The best leadership advice I ever received
Wow. Post #100.
5 years of tips and insights with one intention: to show that leading people is not as bad as you think.
How to make this post special then?
Any journey worth sharing — professional or not — is nothing but a story. A story marked by advice you heard from mentors or teachers, read in a book or simply came up with.
And those words stick with you and pop up in your mind at the exact right moment to inspire, steer (or to be fair, save your ***)
That’s my gift to celebrate that epic yet rewarding journey.
Pick your battles
Last March, I had to make one of the hardest choices of the previous couple of years.
Pause the launch of my business that I had prepared for more than a year. Or do it anyway, because Covid-19 left no other option.
I could have lost my mind. But I remembered that sunny afternoon of November 2013 ; the offsite I attended in a Singapore hotel. The best leadership advice I ever received flashed instantly in my mind:
“Pick your battles. Some are worth fighting now. Some are worth fighting later. Some are not worth fighting at all.”
Your path to leadership excellence comes with hard choices. Many of them will involve an element of renunciation: knowing where to invest time, energy, effort instead of dispersing yourself.
Leaders who pick their battles do nothing else other than setting healthy boundaries. For their teams, their companies… and for their own sanity!
Related: How to avoid work from home burnout
Interruption = robbing others of their truth
When you interrupt someone, not only you’re rude ; what you mean is “I’m not listening to understand ; I’m listening to get ready to talk”
No space to download facts or contemplate a different point of view than yours.
No opportunity to take the conversation to a deeper level.
In a position of leader, you are seen as a role model. Adopt a servant leadership mindset and leave your judgments or beliefs aside, listen actively, focus on facts. You paying attention and caring could be that one little nudge the person you’re talking to needs to take action.
Being different is better than being better
We all have that mental picture of ourselves being [insert your favourite one]-er: smarter, brighter, clever….
But if you’ve been there for a little longer, had other experiences… that makes you unique.
Not smarter, or better, or more insightful.
Ego is the enemy of good leadership So learn to appreciate differences. The best leadership advice I ever received was, too, to find possibility or growth in others. Even if very few could spot it.
All great leaders can inspire anyone to go beyond their predictable behaviour. And all have one thing in common: they look at shortcomings in a constructive way using an overly positive language.
The framing of a problem is often far more essential than its solution
Asking how much is 4+4 is not the same as asking what numbers add up to 8: one provides a limited view, the other expands into a myriad of possibilities.
Leaders who know how to reframe take their skill to a new dimension. They can present the problem in a way that helps team members understand the nature of the situation.
Guide them without limiting what they think. Communicate clearly how they could approach a way forward. And just like that, you’ll inspire your team members to apply their maximum energy to resolve issues.
The best leadership advice I ever received: give the benefit of the doubt
This is, from far, the best leadership advice I ever received. It’s been my mantra for the past 10 years, a piece of advice I follow religiously before each and every action step I take.
We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. But when you account for your own perception of the situation, do you really have all the data in hand?
By giving others the benefit of the doubt, you acknowledge you might have had a wrong perception of the situation in the first place.
You open the door for empathy and humility. Or buy yourself some time before you get into trouble!
Let go of the need to be right
Sometimes, that’s the price you have to pay to protect a relationship.
Not that long ago, I was chatting to someone who had just been dropped by a business partner. It meant a lot of trouble for her clients as she couldn’t deliver the service they were expecting.
The situation was beyond serious, yet she told me: “I’m not mad at him. And I made sure the guy knew”
Sometimes, suffering a little ego bruise is a small thing compared to sabotaging a relationship that can still be beneficial in the long run, or in different conditions.
Self-regulation is a secret weapon: it breeds composure. If you struggle to make sense of it, remember that much of life is to choose when to play your hand, or wisely fold because the odds are against you.
Rely on knowledge instead of emotions
When your emotional reality takes over, stress will dictate your brain’s response.
Result: the part of the brain that will be activated will be the one responsible for your survival.
No work is deprived of challenging moments. But you can learn to detect when your emotions take over. You can train yourself to create a gap between stimuli and response so that you can rely on your cognitive abilities.
Result: a well-thought-out response, instead of a default snap
That simple gap is called a discernment gap. It could be the best leadership advice you ever received. And all you need to access it is a couple of deep breaths to recenter yourself.
Work with the end in mind
Picture where you’re going, and your thoughts are steered.Your path becomes clearer. You have a North Star to hold on to.
You stop wondering if it’s better to work with pace or with patience
But it’s a beautiful ingredient for motivation, too.
When you remember that even a small achievement contributes to the long-term, you create a sense of direction. Suddenly, you feel your work can be meaningful. And you get that extra-motivation boost to reach the next step.
Connect the dots
It is tempting to push into a fully detailed analysis before you make a decision.
Sure, you want to take risks safely. You want to make an informed call. But how often do you need data ; and how often do you need to make sense of the data you already have?
We live in a world where pretty much everything is iterative. In many occasions, you can move on by connecting various data points intelligently, rather than explore the full theory of everything.
And get a feel of what could be missing for you to get full resolution.
Just fail. Forward
What would our world be like without fear? Fear of failure, rejection, uncertainty, judgment…I made a full infographic about it!
We live in a world where failing is trendy, yet not that accepted socially.
After years of entrepreneurship, I can tell you that failing forward is just another tool to explore the borders of your comfort zone.
Step by step, you understand where the thin line is between how far you want to go, and how far you can go.
It’s never really failing awaiting around the corner. It’s to learn to sense if failure will harm you more than it will teach you.
Leadership is a journey where you progress in a way that fosters growth (and not fear). To move gracefully through any blow, then tattoo that sentence in your mind, one of the best leadership advice I ever received in those recent years:
YOU never fail. It’s just your PLAN that didn’t work.
Originally published at https://www.coraliesawruk.com on October 19, 2020.