Top 5 Leadership Lessons You Need to Know
Here’s some truth for you…
No one is born an amazing leader.
Maybe you never even expected yourself to become a leader, but here you are. Responsible for leading and motivating a group of people.
It can feel scary and overwhelming. You may even be thinking to yourself, “Why haven’t I got the hang of this yet?”
Whether you’ve simply worked your way up in your career into a leadership role, or you’ve experienced quick business growth and brought on a team to scale, it’s okay to feel a little in over your head sometimes.
Wherever you find yourself, just know that it’s perfectly okay if you don’t know how to be a great leader right out of the gate.
It takes practice and sometimes stumbling along the way to learn your lessons and master your craft when it comes to your leadership.
I know that’s certainly been the case for myself (and many of my clients!).
Over the years of leading others in my career, and working with top CEOs and executives to effectively lead, I’ve learned a whole lot about what it takes to become a great leader.
Today, I want to share some of that wisdom with you.
So if you’re wondering about the do’s and don'ts of how to become a better leader, I’m going to share my top 5 leadership lessons in this blog post!
I’ll be sharing with you things I’ve learned throughout my career and building a leadership coaching business.
1. Check Your Triggers and Biases
As human beings, we all have triggers and biases. And as someone in a leadership position at a company or as an entrepreneur, it’s important you understand what yours are.
These could be mental baggage you carry around with you, limiting beliefs that might block success, or other things that get in the way of achieving your goals.
And it’s up to YOU to uncover them so you can be mindful about how they might be showing up in your work.
Think about it. You’re interacting with all kinds of people. No matter how big your team is, or how many clients you have -
How you respond and interact with your people can impact the success of your business.
Self-awareness around our triggers and biases can help us work on shifting our patterns, and understand where they even come from in the first place.
2. Get Out of Your Way and Learn About Your People
One of the best things you can do as a Leader is to recognize each person as an individual.
You need to approach each person in your team as a human being, with their own unique qualities. Remember...they’re not you!
Often, when I talk to leaders and mention the importance of getting to know their team members, some of the responses I get are “ I don’t have time for that, do I need to?”, or “Why should I? They’re just like me”.
Listen - they're not like you. There is no one else in the world who's like you, and there's no one else in the world who thinks like you.
You must learn to build processes and to operate in a way that allows you to connect with people in different ways.
And if you feel like you don't have enough time to engage with your people, figure out how to set up your schedule, so you can create time to connect with your team and learn about them.
For example, if your team is getting too big - you're directly managing more than 5 - 7 people, then it might be time to think about how you can build some additional layers, in terms of engagement for teams, so they have places to get feedback and insight from to move forward.
Whoever you put in charge of this needs to understand how to engage with them effectively.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s your job as a Leader to make the most of the people on your team. If you can't do that, it's going to be hard for you to get the best out of them.
One key thing that’ll benefit you and your business is knowing each person wants to be rewarded and acknowledged differently.
If you can think about different ways to incentivize your people, like gift card giveaways, or treating them out to lunch, it can positively impact your business.
3. Learn to Apologize and Forgive Yourself
Sometimes you make mistakes.
But you must learn how to apologize and forgive yourself so you can move on.
This is something I’m still working on myself. And it’s something that I talk a lot about with my clients.
Most times, you won’t always know when people are upset with you. You may only know when they tell you outright or if you’re particularly good at recognizing it.
But if you do notice you’ve upset someone, or someone has come forward, it is SO key to take the time to apologize and work through the issue at hand.
Because as a leader you’ve got a lot on your plate. And you NEED your people.
If you're working with people who aren't willing to put their best foot forward, or if you're working with people who are upset at you, it can negatively impact your business’ productivity.
And when you do mess up in business (and trust me, it’ll happen!), don’t be too hard on yourself.
Practicing self-forgiveness can free up your mental energy and allow you to get back to work without ruminating on your mistakes.
4. Be Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable
It's no secret that to get anywhere in life, you're going to need to face situations you're uncomfortable with.
As a leader, you need to prioritize getting out of your comfort zone.
I’m constantly getting uncomfortable, and although I’ve been a business owner for many years, I still experience situations that push me to my limits.
There are going to be situations and issues that come out of nowhere, and you’re not going to understand why. These include:
- A project gets derailed and stakeholders are upset
- Clients who refuse to pay for your services
- A team member quits out of the blue
You must learn how to effectively deal with these situations constructively because you don't always know what's going to be thrown at you.
You can’t control what happens to you, but you CAN control your reactions.
When you practice getting uncomfortable, you’ll be able to handle negative situations and react in a way that leads better results for your business, your people, and your stress.
It’s a good idea to push yourself by putting yourself in environments that make you flex your muscles. For me, I’m not necessarily the most outgoing person. However, I've been able to get better at building my social skills because I put myself in environments where being extroverted is needed.
It’s not my natural tendency, but I’ve certainly learned a thing or two over the years.
For example, take networking. I'm not the best at it. And if anything, I prefer doing it online, where you can research someone, learn some things about them, and use it in the conversation to break the ice.
But I KNEW that in order to be successful in my employment position, networking was a non-negotiable.
So I came up with approaches to deal with my discomfort, work through it and build those skills. Pretty soon, although it wasn’t my favorite, I became fairly successful at it.
What helped me work through the uncomfortable feelings was recognizing that there’s an incentive when you get out of your comfort zone.
A key lesson I learned? That doing the uncomfortable in business and as an entrepreneur will get you rewarded.
5. Take Care of Yourself First
When you think about your business, one of your values should be a commitment to yourself.
This doesn’t mean you don't support other people.
It DOES mean that you recognize that the only way you can support others, can build things bigger than you, and be a successful entrepreneur is by being committed to yourself, first and foremost.
Think of it a little like being on an airplane. When the flight attendants walk through the safety guidelines, they tell you you need to put on your oxygen mask before you support somebody else or help somebody else with theirs.
And in my opinion? That's what commitment is. A commitment to your health - emotional, physical, and mental is the FIRST priority before you can take care of others.
Because the reality is that if there’s no you, there is no you. And so if you’re a business owner, and if there's no you, a lot of times that means there is no business.
I believe in putting yourself first so much that my Instagram bio says Eat first. Sleep first. Workout first, Leader.
I always make sure to prioritize those three things before doing other things and engaging with others. I know that in order for me to show up in a constructive and positive way, I need to take care of those healthy habits.
So if you're thinking about what you need to show up as your best self or become a better Leader, think about your emotional, mental, and physical health, in addition to the other leadership lessons mentioned in this post.
Remember, being a leader of a company or business is not easy. There are always problems to solve and decisions to make.
However, there are some universal leadership lessons you can learn from. My hope for you is that you can take these leadership lessons in this post and apply them to your current business or career to help you navigate whatever situation you find yourself in.
Which leadership lesson resonated with you? I want to hear from you Leaders! Share any tips, stories, or experiences about leadership lessons that you’ve learned while running your business.
Want deeper support navigating the challenges you face as a leader? Check out my private leadership coaching packages here.