by Minter Dial, author of “You Lead How You Make Yourself a Better Leader”
When I started my career, I can remember how exciting it was to get my first business card. Little by little, I was hoping for a chance to add “Manager” to my title. Within a few years I had the opportunity to lead a team of two people: a person younger than me and me. My first realization was that it took time to manage someone. It meant being available to explain and check things out. It was about feeling responsible. There is what you say and what you do and the gaps in between become noticeable. In the end, that meant that I had to learn how to deal with myself. It was an extremely valuable and lasting lesson: leadership starts with you.
Years later, working through the ranks at L’Oréal, where I worked for 16 years, one of the concepts I stuck to was that my role should be to make my boss look good. If my boss was shining and I could be linked to his success, that would affect me. This strategy didn’t always work, but the key for me was developing myself. When a boss wants to acknowledge successes or blame subordinates for failures, this is a choice. As in many cases, the key question is how you view yourself and the intentions behind your actions.
If some people think leadership is something that only happens when you reach the top, I disagree. I encourage you to look at each step of the way as an opportunity to develop your leadership skills. And the first step is with you. There are three reasons this is important.
First, real leaders know their way around.
I want to encourage defining a north star, a future vision of who you want to be. You understand deeply where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You know what triggers you negatively and positively. You become acutely self-conscious, which means you can identify your own emotions. It is impossible to manage how everyone perceives you. But great leaders have their eyes wide open in front of the mirror they are looking into. As you develop this confidence, you can better knowingly rely on your strengths. If you have weaknesses, you can either try to improve the skills you lack or choose teammates to complement or compensate for. You will also avoid being the kind of boss who has to solve their personal problems towards others. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to check in with my own emotions each morning. How do i feel And remember: it’s okay to be wrong.
Second, a strong leader knows what he stands for.
While what you believe in in the early days can be difficult to stand up for, it is important to lean on what is important to you. In a competitive environment where everyday life can be tough, I am deeply grateful that I have a North Star that has guided me and nurtured my energies. If you know what you stand for, you can use your discretionary energy to jump out of bed quickly despite the challenges. When you know what you stand for, your vision and words will become powerful, believable, and lasting. A leader needs to know how to bring others together with a vision. A vision based on solid and coherent personal values requires respect.
Third, you know where your limits are.
When you know yourself properly, you will gain some confidence and be more able to hold yourself accountable. They are also less prone to posture or have gaps between what you say and what you do. As a leader, trust is the most important quality that needs to be developed, especially when the work is far away. It is essential that you can trust yourself. But as Robin Sharma puts it, if your video matches your audio, you will gain more confidence. They show up in a way that is reliable. When you make a promise, you have to believe it yourself. Your word must be worthy. But your actions must then follow.
With 30 years of experience I have learned to live with the fact that I can never be sure. The classic saying: the more you know, the more you don’t know. To begin with, you never really know each other perfectly. If you think you know yourself completely, check again. Getting to know yourself is an ever-evolving journey as we are complex beings. In addition, the path to self-discovery is fraught with our imperfections. In order to be a great leader, you need to recognize and embrace these mistakes, otherwise they can come back in different and uncontrolled ways. The more humility you carry with you, the more likely you will stay curious and young. Curiosity is one of the defining characteristics of a child who always asks why? If you remain voraciously curious, realizing that you may not know everything, you will remain in an always-learning mode. In addition, you will tend to seek and appreciate the help of others. You are never stronger than the sum of your network. A great leader surrounds himself with great people and knows how to develop great future leaders.
The central theses:
- Create your own personal and precise North Star setting. Make sure you invest the time to think about who you are and who you want to be.
- Make a list of the topics that are important to you and reduce that list to the top one or two. Then determine why these elements are important to you personally.
- Gain confidence by holding yourself accountable.
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, elevator, and multi-award winning writer who specializes in leadership, branding, and transformation. As an agent of change, he is a three-time entrepreneur who has worked twelve different trades and has moved fifteen times. He is the author of The Last Ring Home, as well as three business books, Futureproof, Heartificial Empathy, and its latest, You Lead, How To Make Yourself a Better Guide (Kogan Page), published January 2021.