My journey as a leader
For the majority of my working life, I have had the privilege and the pleasure of being able to work in management/leadership positions across a number of different contexts.
My journey in leadership has for the most part been one that is thoroughly enjoyable, giving me the opportunity to (mostly) positively impact people.
I really like to see people achieve, thrive and operate within their zones of genius. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than empowering a person and seeing them develop and grow. Of course, it made my job as a leader or manager a lot easier too!!!
What held me back
I have not always been positive about leadership or being in a leadership position.
The reluctance I had in accepting a leadership role was related to what I had perceived as shortcomings within my own personality: low self-esteem and self-image were later diagnosed as anxiety and depression.
I had always been a quiet individual and didn’t tend to ever really put myself out there. Introversion is strong in this one. None the less, leadership opportunities have presented themselves time and time again.
Where it all began
A butcher by trade, I received my first opportunity to lead during my apprenticeship.
I worked in a large butchery and was given an opportunity to step into the third in-charge position. At the time I certainly didn’t know why I was being offered this leadership role. I was very quiet and generally kept to myself. My manager indicated that I was more than capable and there were opportunities for me to achieve and grow.
I spent a lot of time watching how my manager worked with and led the team and took the bits that I thought would work for me.
A few key learnings still etched into my mind, they still hold true to this day and apply to different contexts.
Learnings from my leader
Role model desired behaviours
There is not a job that he wouldn’t do himself and if he needed to he would certainly do them. Whatever job he was doing in the department was done efficiently and well. When the chips were down, when there was staff sickness, he would be in there with the team getting the job done.
Invest time in talent
The more time you spend with a person, the more likely they are to do things the way you want them done. Setting clear expectations creates a shared understanding with people. Take the time to explain not only the what and the how, but also the why. The creation of culture and the sharing of cultural expectations are important.
My manager always showed interest at a personnel level. He wanted to or at least created the illusion that he cared about me as a person. To me, this was really important. We all spend a lot of time at work and invest a lot of energy into work. This connection definitely helped with my feelings of engagement.
I was fortunate that my early forays as a leader were under the guiding hand of a mentor who knew a great deal about leadership. Sure, he didn’t attach fancy academic terms or theories to what he was doing. I don’t think he realised the importance of some of the things he was doing. He just did what he thought was right based on the experiences that he had. He connected, he empowered and he trusted me.
One of the really exciting things about the work I am doing now is the conversations that I have with people and capturing those amazing things that they are already doing.
Great ways of doing and being are happening everywhere with leaders. I am fortunate that I get to help people capture these gems. Together, we polish them and improve confidence, ability and mindset.
Perhaps its time for you to have a chat with someone objective who has been there? Get in touch today to chat about how I can help.