What Does Leadership Mean?

As someone who loves leadership, teaches leadership, and lives and breathes people-centered, equitable, high-performance leadership, I am bringing discussion of leadership from its compartmentalized place on LinkedIn and purely professional and educational circles to this entrepreneurial space. Let’s talk about where we’re going as leaders and why leadership reflection matters.

Where are we going?

Over the past two decades of my career to date, I have held a number of leadership roles – formal and informal.

And I know unequivocally that it is possible to create a healthy, collaborative, uplifting team environment where staff both 1) feels genuinely safe and welcomed and 2) delivers for clients and decision-makers with high performance. I know, because I have created those environments repeatedly with predictable results.

I believe that the next 10 – 15 years in particular are crucial for leaders to navigate with clarity and drive meaningful progress for everyone, regardless of level, tenure, or relationship to the organization (decision-makers, employees, clients, etc).

And I also believe that as leaders, the way we navigate complexities while making meaningful progress is by continuing to reflect, ask questions, and adjust our approach in earnest as we learn.

Reflection for leaders

That’s why I’m bringing this discussion here, to my entrepreneurial platform which I have to date kept compartmentalized from my organizational leadership and education work.

I truly believe that we as leaders need to fully embrace and fuel our whole selves to be our best as leaders. And for years, I have truly believed that each person is so much more than just an organizational cog, and I have fully supported many staff to be their whole selves at work, as they felt comfortable.

So now it’s time for my to lead by example, to demonstrate the full diversity of skills, experiences, insights and contributions I bring to the table as a leader.

This has come as the result of careful reflection, and careful reflection is an important practice for any leader. Here are some thoughts to support your own reflection.

What does leadership mean to you?

I’ll share first to get things started.

When I think of leadership, two initial aspects I immediately think of are 1) the efficacy and humanity of people-centeredness (we’re all people first before we’re a leader, an employee, a client, a service provider, a colleague, etc.), and the fact that leaders have a disproportionate effect on the groups they lead.

This isn’t about being fluffy and squishy, by the way. It simply means thinking of people as just that – people.

Leading, drawing out and delivering high performance can go hand in hand with people-centeredness. And, in my experience, this approach also creates the ability to sustainably deliver while avoiding burnout, disengagement and silos (at least, for those benefitting from leaders who create such an environment).

What environment have you been creating, intentionally or not, for your team or organization? How has it affected your team or organization? How has it affected you?

Personally, any team that I have led has benefitted immensely from my approach to leadership. As individuals in terms of people and in terms of their career advancement; as collaborative teams that produce exceptionally high-quality work; as organizations that have benefitted from all these outputs.

As for how this has affected me, that’s a story for another day. What I will say now is that I have learned something crucial about myself. That is, I have learned the importance of working with/for organizations and senior leaders whose practice of what they do and how they do it, is aligned with my own values.

You can find more leadership articles here.

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