What's your leadership brand?
Transparent! Passionate! Energetic! Loyal! Tenacious! Caring! Brutal! These were just some of the words used to describe attendees at our September Women In Business Breakfast.
By Catherine Duncan, Managing Director, Matthews Steer Accountants and Advisors...
I asked participants to prepare for the morning’s Women In Business activities by asking between three and five trusted people to verbally share five words they would use to describe them. On the whole our businesswomen were delighted – and in some cases relieved – with the words their friends, loved ones and colleagues used to describe them, and were empowered by the exercise of seeing themselves through others’ eyes.
Which brought us to the focus of this month’s Women In Business Breakfast: leadership.
Everyone around the table had an opinion about what makes a good leader, and all had experienced good and bad leadership.
I believe anyone can be a leader. It isn't about a fancy title, and it isn’t necessarily about the work you do. Some of our best Matthews Steer staff, from reception upwards, have shown great leadership simply by dealing efficiently or compassionately with a client. And leadership isn’t just something people show at work – it’s also possible to be a great leader at home or in the community.
At the end of the day, leadership is your brand so you have to be very clear on your definition of an effective leader. If you’re not clear on that, and can’t articulate what a good leader is, your leadership will lack authenticity.
How do you get clear on what leadership means to you? Take a look at what you’re watching, reading and listening to.
If you wanted to learn a new language you would study, immerse yourself in the country and culture, learn and practice. The same goes for leadership. If you want to be good at it, you need to determine what the value proposition or differentiation that makes you a good leader is rather than letting people around you define you. And remember, what works for your mentors won't necessarily work for you. Get to know yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Know who you are, what you stand for, and your values.
When you’re in a leadership role you need to be very clear on how you're perceived. Your intentions might be one way, but others’ perceptions of your actions could be very difficult. While we can’t control the way we are perceived, and not everyone you lead will always like you, if there is respect it will keep things on track. After all, differences can sometimes be the source of great ideas.
How can you impact how you are perceived by others?
1. Get good at articulating and languaging what a good leader looks like.
2. Constantly get to know yourself at a deeper level. Know what you stand for, know your non-negotiables.
3. Develop YOUR brand. It becomes your reputation.
4. Check whether your brand is working and adjust where needed.
5. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow and always stay relevant.
Matthews Steer’s quarterly Women In Business Breakfasts assemble a group of fabulous women to share learnings and experiences in a supportive environment. Selling is off the agenda, these gatherings are about the collective experience, and wisdom of our attendees. If you’re interested in attending our next Women In Business Breakfast please email Remy Mazloum.