Despite the title of this article, I am not here to pontificate on my team, rather how great teams stem from a great leader.
Of all the classes I took in college (shout out to LEHIGH University!!) two stand out: “Public Speaking 101” and “How to Become a Team”. Both courses, while different in nature, both taught me applicable skills I continue to use today. I take enormous pride in both my public speaking skills as well as my ability to be a strong team member. I also still fondly reminisce over how my team won our public speaking debate and my team was awarded Best Team. Clearly, I missed the class on “How to be Humble.” 😊 Kidding aside, an important professional skill that cannot be taught in a college lecture hall, but rather learned through experience, emulated from mentors, and earned over time, is How to Be a Great Leader.
Over my career thus far, I’ve had the privilege of learning from many amazing colleagues, and an even greater pleasure of being a mentor/leader to others. Ask anyone who knows me, I take great pride in my team and truly believe that there is no I in Team and to give credit when credit is due. (I'm looking at you Julia Suchocki & Cecelia Fowble). I’ve taken the “good” from my mentors and incorporated those skills into how I lead. I’ve taken the “bad” I’ve seen in the workplace and used that as motivation on what not to do. Somewhere in between, I’ve found my own groove.
Rather than share my own list of what I believe makes a great leader, here are my favorite 5 Tips on Becoming a Better Leader by Gary Vaunerchuk.
- Be a Mentor: “I’m always thinking about how I can provide more value – as a businessman, as an owner, as a leader, as a personality with my audience. My natural default is to be a head coach, a mentor, a big brother, a leader. I think the reason I’m such a fan of mentorship is it equates to actual legacy. Legacy comes in the form of what people say about you when you’re not around, and being a great mentor and advisor leads to those opportunities."
- Take Accountability: “Anything that happens in your organization is 100% your fault. When you lean into accountability … your life gets happier.”
- Understand That You Work For Your Employees, They Don’t Work For You: “Most new managers think that becoming a manager is the “graduation.” Truth is, it’s the reverse. Leaders work for their employees. That means you have to understand what your employees want at a deep level. You have to be constantly adapting to their needs and what they want from the organization. When you go from being someone who “executes” to someone who’s managing a team, you go from trading on IQ to trading on EQ. You go from doing the actual work to listening to employees, catering to what they want, taking the blame, and being the bigger person.”
- Make Your Employees Feel Safe: “When you can eliminate fear from your organization, very good things happen. It’s a leader’s top job to make sure their team under them isn’t scared of them ... Fear is trash...Love is a better motivator than fear in business. The number one thing I try to do is I try to make people feel safe around me. Safety helps create speed in business for a couple of reasons: First, when people aren’t spending time thinking how to navigate a situation, they’re spending time executing. When they’re executing, the entire machine moves faster and produces a higher output. Second, people are able to get to the punchline much faster than they otherwise would, which helps me save time.”
- Use Kind Candor: “Remember, how you deliver the medicine matters. Candor is not an excuse not to be nice…and being nice doesn’t prevent you from being an effective leader. Just like you can be patient and ambitious, or have both great humility and great conviction, you can be both honest and kind. The trick is in finding the right balance.”
While I couldn’t relate more to the wise words of Gary V, I will share my favorite tool in my box, something I use both as a leader, friend, daughter, sister and mother. Start each day (or most days) with a motivational quote. Sometimes we just don’t have the words, so whether you use an app, or just google, within minutes you can find the perfect quote wrapped up in a nice “screen shot” package that with a click of a button or "send" on a text – you can start someones days on a bright note. And you’ll never know just who needed to hear what you have to share.
I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes which I hope you will share with others.