As a leadership coach, I often get asked what the biggest challenge is in being a leader. My answer: you never stop learning. So, I decided to share some of the leadership lessons I learnt this year.
“The best leaders never stop learning.”
It’s just so important. Our behaviour is always changing, our immediate circumstances are changing and the world around us is too. Management styles and workplace expectations evolve, and in particular the pandemic has accelerated many trends such as workplace flexibility, technology usage and supporting employee mental health.
A leader who cannot keep up will no longer be an excellent leader.
The good news is, constant leadership learning does get easier all the time – the more you improve your basic leadership skills like self-awareness, the more learning and constant evaluation and improvement become second nature.
I try to always apply this principle to myself, and I know it’s not always easy. Even with my horses here to keep me grounded, and for me to check myself against every day, I can still get caught up and have ‘blind-spots’ about my behaviour, especially when I get very busy and focused on the task at hand.
This year has been a tough year for most of us. However, everything that’s happened has opened my eyes and helped me learn about leadership. As there’s only a few weeks left of 2021, I thought it was time to share some of what I learnt about leadership this year (so far).
1. Positivity has power
If you know me, or have read some of my earlier posts, then you may be aware that I had an accident in the first half of this year in which I broke several vertebrae. I’m very lucky that my recovery, while difficult, has been excellent, and in particular I’m lucky I can still walk.
And it really taught me how much of an impact positivity can be in our lives.
This is not to say that everyone can or should be positive all the time. We know life can be tough. And we’re very aware and supportive of mental health issues here – please do get help if you need it.
However, the power of positivity is a great mantra for leaders. Positivity is an excellent way to keep yourself and your team focus on goals and remain resilient through challenges.
2. Be aware of your impact upon others
My accident was a big reminder of all the people – in my work and personal lives – who rely on me to do certain tasks. Seeing them have to work around me suddenly not being there showed how I impact upon others. Obviously, this was an extreme example, but it is worthwhile keeping in mind on a regular basis. If you’re stressed, then those around you will feel that stress. The same goes for being cranky, or distracted, or whatever else.
At the same time of being reminded of interdependence, I also got see how others were able to step up and keep everything running without me. A welcome reminder that a good leader not only creates a team that works well together, but also where each member has the ability to work autonomously and get on with what they’re good at.
As others have said – good leaders make themselves replaceable.
3. Look after yourself
Being forced to slow down is not something that happens to me often! I have numerous demands in both my home and work life, so I often fall into the trap of doing so much in a single day that I hardly have time to breathe (let alone eat or rest!)
However, having to focus on my health really drove home how important looking after myself is. How can we lead others if we’re run down and not functioning properly ourselves?
I think we all know this deep down, but what I learnt is that what was holding me back from caring for myself more was fear of what would happen to all my responsibilities if I did take time to myself.
And guess what: it all worked out just fine.
What have you learnt about leadership this year? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re interested in learning more about our unique leadership training with horses, email firstname.lastname@example.org.