Some think that leadership is something an individual is born with and others believe that it is something that can be learned. I think it is a little bit of both. There are individuals who inherently have a propensity towards leadership-like characteristics, but leadership is a skill that needs to be continually refined. If we are smart, we seek out mentors throughout our lives. Individuals who exhibit qualities we admire, those who possess wisdom we seek to gain, and those who embody a version of who we would like to be when we grow up. They may not even know we have chosen them, but we watch, listen, and learn from their words, behavior, and actions.
As we seek to learn, we should also find opportunities to pay it forward. We should be a mentor to others and share with them what we may have learned the easy or the hard way. Sometimes leadership lessons can come from the most unexpected places.
- The One with the Routine: If you don’t venture out on New Year’s Eve, chances are you stay home watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve, thinking, if only I danced that well, I wouldn’t be home on New Year’s Eve. As kids, we imagine the world how we wish it would be. The sky is the limit. We just need a chance. One chance to perform the 8th grade “routine” we developed with our sibling. One chance to make a dream come true.
Lesson: Our dreams as kids tend to grow up with us. As leaders, we need to encourage others to continue chasing their childhood dreams. They may not look the same as they did when we were five, but they helped to shape our drive in life. They are the root of our passion. A leader’s responsibility is fanning the flames of that spark to ignite the fire within. Sometimes people just need one chance.
- The One with Joey’s Award: It seems there is an award for everything these days. Awards even have their own season. We may not all have an opportunity to win a “soapie”, but as a society we should make an effort to recognize those individuals who improve The Days of Our Lives.
Lesson: As leaders, we need to recognize the accomplishment of others. It may be something small that made us smile or encouraged the team. It may be an out-of-the-box idea that streamlined processes. Whatever the accomplishment, we should look for opportunities to let others know that what they do matters. Their ideas, hard work, and contributions do not go unnoticed.
- The One with the Cooking Class: We have all received criticism. It is a part of life, but that does not mean it is easy to accept. Criticism is meant to help us grow and develop into a better version of ourselves. Even an experienced chef can learn a thing or two from an introduction to cooking class.
Lesson: Leaders are responsible for the individuals they are privileged to serve. As part of that responsibility, leaders need to not only provide constructive feedback, but opportunities for continued growth and development. Leaders encourage us to see beyond our mistakes and achieve our full potential.
- The One in Barbados: Who ever knew that paleontologist conventions were a real thing? As kids, we learn about dinosaurs in school. We are enamored with the knowledge that these ancient creatures once roamed the world and are puzzled by their absence. We used to dream of the day where a fragment of bone and a simple fossil brush led to the next significant advancement in paleontology.
Lesson: Leaders get focused on seeing the big picture. Sometimes this broad focus tends to distract us from the detailed perspective that our team members provide. At times, ego and seniority can blind us to our team members’ insights. We can dismiss them as being naïve. As leaders, we need to avoid diminishing the insights and the goals of others. What we may see as a dead end, others may see as an area for momentum and development. Leaders need to embrace and encourage ideas because you never know when you will find that next big discovery.
- The Last One: All good things eventually run their course and come to an end. We take time to reflect on the memories, the mistakes, and the lessons learned. If we are lucky, we found some mentors, leaders, and friends along the way. If we took our role seriously as a leader, hopefully, we were able to make even a small impact on the lives of others. As leaders, we should be looking for opportunities to share our knowledge with others, but in turn, never stop growing ourselves.
Lesson: Leaders tend to fear losing their best team members and that fear is shortsighted. We have all heard the question, “what happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” The response, “what happens if we don’t, and they stay?” As leaders, we cannot control whether individuals stay or leave, but our responsibility is to nurture their passion and provide opportunities for them to achieve their goals.
Leadership is not about the numbers; it is about the people. We have all benefited along the way from the leaders and mentors that influenced our life. Leadership is more than just a formal position. Anyone can lead. It starts with a desire to see others succeed. As leaders, we need to “celebrate the greatness in others.”
“We celebrate those who light fires in others by caring, listening, recognizing, and inspiring. Lighting fires has to begin within ourselves, with finding the light within who we are as human beings. Once we find that light, we can share it with others and encourage them to allow their fires to be lit and kindled and grown and shared.” ~ Bob Chapman
How do you support the one who needs a chance?