By Jill Lewis
Mike Murdock states, “Leaders make decisions that create the future they desire.” A simple statement; yet, a profound one. It is this quote that led me to reflect on the decisions I make as I lead myself, my businesses, and the CO ASCD organization. Was I being willy-nilly? Do I know why I make certain decisions and say yes to some things and no to others? Or was it because I was jumping to grasp at the edges of cliffs trying to grab a pebble to keep going? I needed to find answers and most importantly I needed to find the me in leadership, then find the why I lead.
5 Ways to find the ME in Leadership
This may sound cliché. However, I read everything I can get my hands on about leadership. Look for the golden nuggets in articles, blogs, magazines, books, and social media. Reach out to leaders in the leadership industry. There are incredible resources of all types out there to support not only leadership pedagogy, but the development of skills and tools. Each of the books below gave me pause to find the me in leadership.
- Jesus as CEO, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership by Laurie Beth Jones
- The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud
- Presence by Amy Cuddy
- Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Find a Mentor
Everyone needs a coach. Currently, I have three coaches, all of whom are very different, from different organizations, and differing fields. I think about what I need and where I need to grow as a leader and seek those people out. I place great importance of looking for a variety of perspectives as I navigate this journey of leadership. In my wheelhouse of mentors, I make sure to have a trifecta approach connecting personal growth, business development, and specific skill knowledge. I find people who are in the corner four quadrant (Cloud, 2016), who push me to stretch and then stretch some more, question my motivations, and most importantly, hold me accountable.
Observe & Study
Once I find my mentors, I seek out other leaders in the field that I can emulate. I study how that person interacts with his or her audience and delivers content through analysis of their actions and words. I observe the behavior of the different types of interactions and the effect of how relationships are enhanced. In essence, I ask myself this question.
How does this person stand in their own personal power?
Researcher and renowned speaker on the power of presence, Amy Cuddy, says, “…if power reveals, then we can only know the truly powerful, because only they are bold enough to show who they are without subterfuge and without apology. They have the courage and the confidence to open themselves to the gaze of others” (Cuddy, 2015, p. 143).
It is through my gaze that I continue to find the me in the way I want to lead.
Say YES to everything. Ok, ok, I know jaws started dropping, coffee dripped down the front of shirts, and I heard the exasperated sighs. Here is the next part. Say YES to everything that matches the vision of who you want to be as a leader. Use your leadership vision as a litmus test to determine the potency the experience may bring. Take the risk.
My personal vision is to transform education on a global scale, so that every person has the freedom to innovate, create, and be empowered to live purposely. Because I say YES to some of the craziest ideas tested against my vision litmus test, doors consistently open allowing me to grow exponentially in ways I never considered. This is why saying YES is so important.
Madonna, Cher, Lady Gaga are known within the music industry as constantly changing to stay relevant. Spanning over 5 decades, these women use their power to reinvent themselves over and over. In order to do that, they read, have mentors and confidents, observe, study, and risk. Most importantly, they reflect on where they have been and where they want to go. Each of these three women look at their successes and failures, reflect to move forward, and rise again and again with innovative types of music, dance, and special effects. This type of relevance would not happen without constant reflection of their industry, what their audience currently wants, nor if they remained stagnate in what they have already done. Reflection is key.
Reflection for me happens daily. I journal. I show gratitude for the little things. I ask questions to help make processes more efficient. I look inward to understand my own habits and actions. I do this so I continue to remain relevant in our ever-changing world.
Consistency of these five types of behaviors I use to grow my capacity as a leader develops the me in leadership. The behaviors I exude pour into the different organizations I serve, and are ingrained into each organization’s culture through its people. Leading in this manner creates opportunities for others to step into their own power elevating their own skills and tools leaving a legacy where leadership multiplies.
Cloud, D. H. (2016). Power of the other. Place of publication not identified: Harpercollins.
Cuddy, A. (2016). Presence: Bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges. London: Orion.
Ryan, Syd. (July 2017). Leading with Vision Workshop. Nashville