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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What defines leadership


If there was a word to describe my week, it would be leadership.

As a child, I recall many of the notes on my report card were focused on my leadership skills. Most of them said that while I had good leadership abilities, I was either easily distracted or easily swayed.

Leadership was not the forefront of my mind when I entered the workforce. As naive as it sounds, all I wanted was a nice job that taught me what I needed to know but I was never one with an “agenda.”

That being said, I have witnessed all kinds of leadership over the years. The biggest leadership icon in the year I started working was Miranda Priestly from yes, “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Unfortunately, I have encountered leaders who mimicked her entire leadership style and it wasn’t pretty. On the other hand, I have also encountered leaders who were kind, empathetic, and willing to dodge a bullet for team members.

I have learned from both.

You see, for some people, leadership is all about the power and the prestige that comes with it. They enter into their roles and are instantly defined by it. This is why they cling to it with all they have, even if it means losing their values in the process.

Their entire life is defined by a role they have for eight hours a day (or more), five days a week. For those of us who have experienced this kind of leadership have also experienced what came with it chaos, blame and lack of empowerment.

These types of leaders will throw anyone, even those from their teams, under the bus as a way of protecting themselves and the power they possess. Power is all they have, and they will not let it go without a fight even if it meant killing others in the process.

However, for the very confident few, a position is nothing more than what it is: a role they bring their best to daily. These leaders accept the responsibilities of the role but do not allow the role to define them.

This kind of leadership makes sure to empower others, so they shine brightly. These leaders do not diminish to lift themselves up but instead walk hand in hand with the people in their care so these people will be strong and skilled enough to be leaders themselves.

These leaders do not cast blame and do not attack anyone personally. They talk about the problem on hand and encourage you to find solutions together. These leaders understand that your life must not be consumed by work but instead promote a healthy work-life balance because that is what makes them thrive. These leaders are calm and never overbearing.

This is the type of leader I wish to be. And it’s always a process because there are many things you encounter on the leadership journey that nobody can prepare you for but if you stick to your truth, you will always make the decisions that speak to that truth.

So I guess all of my teachers were on to something when they saw hints of leadership with me but I can only hope that I don’t disappoint them or the ones entrusted to me. I can only hope that I become the leader that I have always aspired to be.


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