As an experienced leadership coach, Akua has plenty of experience and wisdom to share based on what she has learned and seen through coaching. Today Akua shares her top 5 resources for growing your business and leadership lessons she has learned along the way. Get ready to consider your biases, get out of your comfort zone, and value self-care. Akua will discuss this and more in today's episode.
No one is born an amazing leader; there are skills and lessons learned along the way that build incredible leaders. It's normal to feel overwhelmed if you are new to a leadership role or your role has changed or leveled up recently. Akua discusses the lessons that have been most influential to her growth as a leader. These lessons have helped her coach others to become more confident leaders that find their own success.
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What's Covered in this Episode About Self Awareness
- Checking in with your triggers and biases
- Learning to apologize and to forgive ourselves
- Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and strategies to help you do so
- How to leverage your client's language
- How to create efficient proposal pages that benefit you and your client
- How to support your client so that they can see the gaps that need filling
Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations
"No one is born an amazing leader." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
"You need to create that enabling environment, you have to sometimes create that psychological safety, to get people to actually want to be vulnerable and share some of those important pieces of information with you." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
"We all make mistakes. And so I think it's really important that we learn to apologise in a way that really resonates with us and feels authentic and also forgive ourselves so we can move on." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
"Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is number four. And so I think as a leader, as just a human being, I think we need to prioritise getting out of our comfort zone." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
"If you don't feel good about yourself, it's really hard to support others. And for a lot of you listening to this, especially if you own your own business, or you're an entrepreneur, if there's no you, there's no business." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
Mentioned in #AskAkua Leadership Lessons
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Blog Post: Want a thriving coaching business? Forget everything you learned in your coach certification
Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast
Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.
Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive.
Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit. Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.
Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:
Here’s the transcript for episode 25 about Leadership Lessons
NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua. And yeah, I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this hashtag ask Akua episode of the open door conversations podcast. So I have two questions for you today. These are two questions that I've been getting a lot recently. And I think it has to do with the fact that we're getting towards the end of the year. It's a new year. And so I wanted to share the answers to two questions. This first question is all about the top leadership lessons that leaders should keep in mind, especially now that we have a new year. So what are the top things that I can share around my own background? The things I've learned and things I've also seen through supporting clients? The second question is all about how to build a coaching business. So recently, I've been getting a lot of questions around what are my thoughts on the best books, the best resources, the best courses, and I'm going to just share some very direct and actionable feedback. I think that anyone who's looking to build a service based business or anyone who's looking to build a business, that's more consulting, coaching and training based, can really leverage and use right away. I'm actually not a massive fan of suggesting books simply because I think that in order to be a leader, and this is something I'll even be sharing with this first question around leadership lessons, in order to be an effective leader in order to be an effective business owner or founder, whatever title or position you want to give yourself, it's more important to implement and actually try things. So that's what I'm sharing in today's episode, if you think those are some interesting questions you would love to hear my perspective on? Keep listening. So the first question all around, what are some of my top leadership lessons, I'm very excited to dive into this. And what I want to share with you actually are my five top Yes, so my top five leadership lessons, I think it's going to be five. And from my perspective, I think the first step is really recognising that no one is born an amazing leader. I think that especially if you never expected to become a leader, and I never expected to become a leader, I never thought that I'd be motivating, leading other people, that people would even listen to me or that I'd be influencing them. And when I first started, it was incredibly scary and overwhelming. And it still is sometimes incredibly scary and overwhelming. And so whether you've simply worked your way up into your career into a leadership role, or you've experienced quick business growth, and brought your team on to scale, it's okay to feel a bit over your head sometimes. Right? You know, and I think that happens to all of us. And that's absolutely no problem, right? When I talk about the types of leaders I support, so those are firefighting leaders, overwhelmed leaders, you know, leaders that are reluctant, I am that leader sometimes. So recognising that it's perfectly okay to have to deal with these issues, right. And the idea is that through building our, you know, self awareness, we really simplifying and thinking about how we want to engage in by setting expectations that we can adjust if necessary, we can all become better leaders, but it's really through practice and sometimes stumbling along that we learn these lessons and that we get better at showing up and leading and influencing. So these are the five things that I wanted to share with you around I think being a better leader really being able to show up and I think will be incredibly helpful for you as we go into this new year. And so this first one here is really all around checking in with your triggers and biases. So all of us, I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you do, what your mama did, what's your dad He did. We all have biases, and we all have triggers. And so I think that the first step, and this is something that I love, you know, creating awareness around for myself and the people I work with is that first step really is around learning what those might be uncovering them. And you know, just trying to be a little bit more conscious of the fact that we always will bring in our biases and our perspectives into any conversation that we're having, we will be projecting on others. And that's absolutely fine. Right? We are human beings. And so it's super important that because we are interacting with all types of people, and that no one is you, right, no one thinks the same way that you do, no one will have the same exact values that you'd have. It's so important for us to build our self awareness around our triggers and our biases, so that we can help shift patterns if necessary. If we recognise that showing up in a certain way, engaging in a certain way isn't getting us closer to our goals. It's only through checking your triggers and your biases, where you're going to be able to really work through that uncover that and then be able to bring others along. So that first one, I think is so incredibly important. It's something that I spend a lot of time on. And I recognise that my biases and my triggers also evolve as well as I evolve. Because we're all evolving, we're all changing, we're all shifting, we're human beings. The second thing I have on here, and this is really interesting, because I remember when I first started, I just approached everyone the same. And I said that everyone should be the same, everyone should be just like me, I shouldn't have to go out of my way to you know, support people or get the best out of them. And I would say that my mindset on that has really shifted a lot, but also recognise that there's a way to simplify this. So the second one I have here is get out of your way and learn about your people. I think it's so easy for us to sit back and say like, oh, yeah, people will tell us what they want. And oh, yeah, like, if they need something they'll let us know. But the truth is that you have to create that enabling environment, you have to sometimes create that psychological safety, to get people to actually want to be vulnerable and share some of those important pieces of information with you. So I think that one of the best things that you can do as a leader is recognise that each person is an individual. And if you feel like you have too many people to look after, to learn about to have these conversations with maybe then you need to break up your team and really think about other ways to scale where you don't feel like you're being pushed or pulled, to have to learn about every member of your team. But you need to know your people. And you need to have an understanding of what motivates them what they want to get out of the position. They're in why they're even here, because that's the only way that you're going to be able to build something bigger than yourself and really bring people along. So you know, at the end of the day, it's your job as a leader, even if you're a solo entrepreneur, if you're bringing on a consultant, if you're bringing on someone to support you, as a VA, it's your job as a leader to make the most of the people on your team. And if you can't do that, it's going to be hard for you to get the best out of them. So I think that it's in your best interest to know each person that's on your team really understand them. And by understanding them, you'll have an you know, you'll be able to actually reward them, acknowledge them appropriately, so that you're able to get the best out of them. And they're able also to get the best out of this experience. This third thing that I have on here is really something that I've been working hard on especially the last two years. And this is something that I think I still struggle with, especially in my personal life. And if you've had the opportunity to listen to anything that I share, listen to any video that i i put out there, you know that I truly believe that our personal or professional lives are very much intertwined, and that we try to compartmentalise them, but it's impossible. We're human beings, we are fluid, things in our professional life will impact our personal life and things in our personal life will impact our professional life. And so this third thing I have on here, and this is something that yeah, I'm really, really working on is wanting to apologise and forgive yourself. Right? I think sometimes it's really easy for us to potentially do that for others. And actually say, a lot of times, when I've seen this happen, you know, we will say we forgive others that we really don't, we're just doing it because we feel like we have to or it's like the right thing to do or it's the right thing to say I wouldn't recommend that if it's not genuine. If it's not authentic, I personally wouldn't recommend that you do it. But that's just really how I approach things. But we all make mistakes. And so I think it's really important that we learn to apologise in a way that really resonates with us and feels authentic and also forgive ourselves so we can move on. And as I've mentioned before, this is something I'm still working on myself. And I know a lot of my clients are very much working on as well. You know, I can think to clients that are still sort of beating themselves up over decisions they made within their business. And so it's it's sometimes difficult actually to know when people are upset with you. I tend to be one of those people that will confront things to some extent, but not everyone is willing to do that or put themselves out in that way. They sometimes feel like it's best simply just to allow. You know, that's that's not how I necessarily work. But every one's a little bit different. And so you have to ask yourself, what makes the most sense for you within your personal life, what makes the most sense for you within your business? And I would say most times, especially within your business, it's an not good to have that undercurrent of passive aggressiveness or that undercurrent of there's something wrong here that that elephant in the room. So I'd really, you know, recommend that you try to build your awareness and try to to recognise whether or not you've upset someone or even asked someone, you know, if you've upset them. And if someone comes forward, it's really important that you take the time to apologise and at least work through the issues. And this is simply because you have a tonne on your plate. And when we're thinking about your business, or your career, especially you need your people, right, you need people who can support you, and you need to be able to support people. So if you want them to put their best foot forward, if you want to make sure that that environment is psychologically safe, so people are able to try and do new things and fail and let you know what's working and not working. It's really important that you know, as many people as possible are on the same page, and that you normalise the fact that people are going to mess up that we're not always going to agree and that things aren't always going to be peaches and roses. And so I think that practising self forgiveness, learning how to acknowledge things, when you've done them incorrectly or poorly or upset someone's feelings is so important and will free up a lot of mental energy so that you can get back to work without overthinking on your mistakes on this next one I have on here is Yeah, I think very important as well, this is something that I've had to get better at. And I think all of us are going to face situations that we've never faced, and we're going to be uncomfortable with to some degree. So getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is number four. And so I think as a leader, as just a human being, I think we need to prioritise getting out of our comfort zone. And I think also, it's very important to recognise that there is out of your comfort zone where that's not actually leading towards your goals or your vision. And then there's out of your comfort zone where you actually are going closer, and taking those small steps to get closer to what you define as success. And so that first step, I think is recognising that always being outside your comfort zone is not always best, right? I think that there's a way where once again, it's getting closer to what you define as success. And then other times other times where it's out of your vision and version of success. And it's more about following what other people expect of you or what is expected of whatever your gender is, or however you identify. And so those two are not the same. So it's really important that you cultivate your self awareness to recognise really where you're playing and where that might be. I feel like I'm constantly uncomfortable, even though now I've worked for myself for three years. And even prior to that I was in a situation where every single day look different, it was pretty much a start, you know, it was a startup experience. And those situations really did push me to my limits, but I'm very grateful for them. Because the fact that I was able to do that, and I you know, I saw the other side, and the benefits that can come with it, you know, just lead me to feel a lot more comfortable to put myself out there in many ways. And so recognising that we're going to be uncomfortable a lot, right projects will get derailed stakeholders will get upset, clients won't be happy. I recently actually had a client who decided he no longer wanted to work with me and also wanted a refund, that was something I'd actually never dealt with. And I've been in business for three years. And my contract also clearly says that I don't offer refunds, because you've taken my time and we've scheduled it out. So recognising those things are always going to happen. And that's okay. So we need to learn how to, you know, effectively deal with these situations, because you don't always know what's going to be thrown at you. So really thinking about how you can become more comfortable in the uncomfortable can be very helpful. So some of the things I think about is you know, breathing deeply taking space, being okay with saying no, all of those things can really help you. Especially if you've thought about or thought about it prior to actually having that uncouple experience, all of those things can help you moving forward. And one of the things I actually even wanted to mention with this one that I think about a lot and actually still makes me a bit uncomfortable is networking, I'm not the best at it, I prefer doing it online, it's a lot more comfortable for me to you know, meet with people on Zoom than it is for me to do it in person, because I can actually stalk them prior. And sometimes I will. So just really recognising that that you know, for me to be successful in my position, even prior to working for myself, networking was so important. So I started to think about how I could make it a lot more of a comfortable situation for myself and have come up with approaches. And sometimes it does involve researching people beforehand, coming up with questions beforehand and thinking about what my ask might be, how I can support them and how they could potentially support me. There's nothing wrong with that. And I think that if we approach some of these situations that we know we're going to happen over and over again in this way. Yeah, we're really going to be able to work through it and ultimately be rewarded. This last thing I have on this list for some people might be a bit controversial for me it's not a contract. You know, it's not controversial at all. It's something that I think a lot about it Um, you know, once again, from some people's perspective, that might sound a bit self like self, no selfish, I think it's actually self lis. And so number five is taking care of yourself first. And honestly, I think the the image that comes to mind and I was actually talking to my sister about this, but the image that comes to mind for this one is like, you know, when you're in an airport, and when they're giving you the guidelines about that oxygen mask, they say, put on your mask before supporting others. And that's the way I really visualise this particular last lesson, this particular thing that I've learned, and it's, I think, something that, you know, instinctively I've always done, I've really tried to make sure that my best self or I'm taking care of myself so that I can support others, because most of my work has been around supporting others has been around business development has been around building other people's businesses, building other people's careers. And so it's so important that I'm committed to making sure that my emotional, physical and mental health is the priority, so that I can support others. So you know, at one point in time, I think on my Instagram bio, and this is something that I share with some people, I said, or I used to talk about eating, first sleeping, first working out or moving first leader, because I feel like if you don't feel good about yourself, it's really hard to support others. And for a lot of you listening to this, especially if you own your own business, or you're an entrepreneur, if there's no you, there's no business. And so it's so important that you make sure that you prioritise the things that are going to allow you to show up so that you can engage with others so that you can achieve your goals so that you can work through being overwhelmed. reluctance, or firefighting, and it's through having those healthy habits and those healthy routines that when you do get uncomfortable, or that things change, or that things shift, or that you do get sick, or that someone is fired, or that someone leaves you, it's so much easier to work through it. So these are the five things, I think I want to share the five lessons that I want to share. You know, once again, being a leader of a company, a business, building your career is not easy. But if you take the time to do those five things I shared and so once again, you know, if you take the time to learn a little bit more about yourself and cultivate your self awareness around your triggers and your biases. If you take the time to learn about your people, both in your personal and your professional life, if you take the time to learn to apologise and forgive yourself, right? Number four, if you take the time to to get comfortable getting uncomfortable and sort of thinking about what are the tools and techniques I need to make the most of being uncomfortable. And then last but not least, if you take care of yourself first, I think that it's going to be so much easier for you to really be able to show up. And I think that these are universal leadership lessons that can be helpful to anyone at any point in time. Maybe these should even be universal human lessons that anyone can can use moving forward. But that's really how I would answer those questions or answer that question. What are my top leadership lessons? Those are my five. I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any tips, any stories and experiences that this resonate? Please feel free to let me know. But that's really my thoughts on the top lessons that I can share. And I think the top lessons that will really help you make the most of this new year. So I wanted to share my thoughts on the second question around how to build a thriving coaching or consulting business, I actually just finished up working with a client that was you know, working on getting their first consulting gig, their first consulting contract, I've worked with others in the past. So sometimes my leadership clients are also solo entrepreneurs looking to build their business. And so I think it's always really important to reflect on what is it that you're looking to build what's really important to you, and then also just trying to focus on what's going to really bring you results, you know, reading an entire book is not going to bring you results, you know, necessarily it's more about implementation, investing another certification is not going to bring your results as well, you need to actually do the work, you really are the one who needs to put themselves out there and push themselves outside of their comfort zone to make sure that they're doing things or to make sure that you are doing things and really getting a better understanding of the people that you're trying to serve. So, you know, I'm actually going to make sure that I linked this, but I do have in an article, a blog post on my, my blog with some of my thoughts on how to build a thriving, thriving business. So a thriving information based business, a thriving coaching or consulting business and the title is actually forget everything you learned in your coach certification. And another question I get a lot actually is do you need a coach certification? The long and short of it is know if you'd like me to talk a little bit more about my thoughts on that I'm happy to I will say I'm someone who's invested quite a bit in my my coaching, education, coaching certifications, and I continue to but that's sort of the way I show up and I had the resources to So I think that's that should be a huge part of your decision and to where you once again, place your time and energy, because the certification once again is not going to give you business. And I will actually say and this is something that I say a lot, and one of my programmes, so I have a programme that's called up level for thought leaders. And a huge part of that programme actually is talking about business development, as well as leveraging a social media platform to put yourself out there in a very efficient and effective manner as well. But you know, one of the things I share there is, you know, some of these business development tips, some of these things that I've learned through, you know, building my business over the last few years, and I think that we, we tend to tell ourselves that, oh, I need to invest in this next thing, I need to get the certification, and then this will happen. And that's not the case. And I know a lot of coaches, a lot of trainers, a lot of facilitated a lot of speakers that have absolutely no certifications and are doing amazingly well. So it's really up to you to decide where to place your time and energy, but based on the things I've seen, and once again, I'll make sure that I link this blog post, because I'm literally going to share what's in this blog post. Basically, the things I've seen, these are sort of my top five takeaways from making the most of your coaching or consulting practice, especially if you're launching. So this is based actually on another training that I've done. So I've taken the training, so I've distilled it, I think, into the top five things that you should keep in mind, so no need to invest in the training, I'm just joking, you can feel free. But these are my things are, these are things that I think are really important. So number one, give the client what they say they want, you know, I think all of us, you know that consider ourselves experts to some extent or have some idea on you know, how to support our clients will spend time trying to talk to or talk them out of what they say they want at the beginning of a coaching or consulting relationship, I suggest you give them what they want. And you can further explain to them that this is some additional component that you might want to consider. Once you get that business. The second thing I have on here is use the client's language to connect with them. This is something that I that's taken me so long to get better at. But it's so important. A lot of times we tend to use language that really resonates with us, as opposed to those people who are maybe just starting their journey, or just becoming aware of the fact that maybe they have an issue or challenge. They want an accountability partner for a thought partner for or some support with. So I always suggest this. And once again, if you have an opportunity to work with me, you know, whether it's within my one on one coaching my training workshops, or within up level for thought leaders, you will know that I have some really strong opinions even about the way people present themselves on social media by leveraging their credentials or the letters behind their name. And so one of the things I always say is, you know, does your ideal decision maker? Or does your ideal client even understand what those letters mean? What those credentials mean? And nine times out of 10? They don't? So it doesn't really make sense to have it there. It's always a question to ask yourself. So with this second one, you know, around using the client's language to connect with them, don't try to impress them by using complex terms, or coaching or consulting jargon or training jargon, once you secure that opportunity, you can educate them if you feel like it adds to the engagement. But I think that language is so important. And even the other day I was, you know, in a training, where I asked, you know, why was it important for them to use a certain word and did that put them off. And I love their response, because they said, this is something they show them after they secure the opportunity, and they work with them to define it for themselves. So it's really important to recognise that of course, once you have that opportunity and you have the time, you can put the energy into helping them define it for themselves. And educating them on the words they could potentially use, that might be very helpful for whatever situation or challenge that they're in. The third thing I have on here, I think is super important. And once again, you know what I'm thinking to supporting my clients that are, you know, in this this space are looking to leverage, you know, my, my experience for building out their own businesses, it's it's really around building the proposal with the client. And my proposals are super short. And even now I actually do video alongside my proposals, that's something that I do that, you know, works well, I think for the way in which I show up and most of my work does involve speaking and having conversations and facilitating so it makes sense in my mind. So you really have to do what works well for you. But I really wouldn't recommend spending hours writing out a long proposal, especially without the client's input. And you know, write it with the client, honestly, and I really would recommend that you don't make it too long. Because if you don't get the proposal, and this is number four, if you don't get the proposal, it's a waste. So keep the proposal as short as possible. And, you know, ultimately, the client was just going to skip to the last page and look at the price. And I think that for so many that people that I've you know, had the opportunity to potentially work with, they just look at the price. They don't even focus on the value that they're getting. They just want to go straight to the price. So I think that having bullet points, things that are short and concise and once again are leveraging the client's language will really help to illuminate what the value is if they invest in you or decide to work with you. And recognising that a super long proposal is not going to help anyone, right, it's gonna be a waste of your time and energy and your client is less likely to look at it anyway, they're probably just gonna go straight to the price. So making it short, will allow them to actually focus on what you're really trying to support them with. Alright, so this last one I have on here is really supporting the client so that they can see the gap. So this is I think, something that's really important if you're a coach or consultant. And that's, that's something that I'm still working on, to be honest, because I tend to focus on the journey, you know, I really focus on the journey, that transformation, I really focus on sometimes the tools and techniques because I get really excited about that. But the truth is, my clients, you know, the real work with me, they don't they don't care, right, you know, what we really should be showing them and more having conversations with them is how much they potentially are currently losing. And they will define it for themselves, and then how you as the coach or consultant can help them close it. So recognising that whenever you're coming in as an expert, whenever you're coming in as a facilitator, whenever you're coming in to help inspire or encourage or educate, you are taking them on this journey, right from point A to point B. But the client needs to see the gap, they need to become aware of what will happen if they don't invest the time and energy into your support. And so that's why it's so important. And that's why I put in number five, helping the client see the gap. So those are my five tips. I don't think I answered the question directly. But I feel like these are probably a lot more important takeaways than sharing a specific book or specific certification. These are the things I think that anyone who's looking to build a thriving practice needs to really focus on. And as I mentioned before, I will link the blog post and a little bit more information about where this actually comes from. Because I think that this is yeah, really important information that everyone could learn from and whether or not you're a coach or consultant. And once again, these are things that I have conversations with in my programme up level for thought leaders. So if this is something that you're interested in having a conversation around and being part of a community where we have these conversations, you should definitely check out my my programme up level for thought leaders, I will be opening it again, sometime soon, I will leave a link to the waitlist in the show notes. But I think it's a really great opportunity for me to one create a safe environment so that you can learn more about yourself, learn about how you want to show up on social media, leverage your thought leadership in a way that really resonates and then also be around other amazing service providers, other amazing thought leaders and other people who really want to make the most of their time that they spend online. So those are the two questions that I wanted to share with you today. I hope that both questions and my my perspective was thought provoking. As always, please feel free to reach out on social media. If you have any questions, I will leave a link to the question form in the show notes. I look forward to hearing from you and I hope that you stay safe and sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.