What Are You Doing To Become A Great Leader?
Happy November! Two weeks ago, I finished my Organizational Behavior course and realized that my forum post to be shared with my class was never posted. We were to watch a TED Talk video “What it takes to be a great leader” and respond to the three points/questions the speaker, Roselinde Torres, mentions in her speech. I enjoy the three questions and want to share them with you because they drive you to reflect and make changes to thrive as a leader in the 21st century. Leaders are the competitive advantage in any given organization. Great leaders reflect and improve, seek to learn from people different than themselves, and take risks to create and sustain changes. The best thing about all of this is that leadership isn’t something that some people are born with and others are not. Everyone can be a leader. With that said, everyone has room for improvement.
Here is the video and my tweaked thoughts and responses below:
a. Where are you looking to anticipate change? This can be found on our calendars like Rosalinde mentions; this is who you are spending time with, where you are traveling, what you are reading, and what you are deciding to do now to make sure you are prepared and ready for the future. Time is something we never get back. Are you spending it well?
*With the courses I’ve taken so far and my experience in the workplace, I am working toward exercising more big-picture thinking, instead of getting sidetracked by the details. We had 2 one-page memo assignments in my Organizational Behavior course–stating the issues the organizations are facing, analyzing the issues, and proposing some solutions by adding an implementation plan, as well as a cost-benefit analysis. This thrilled me, but also took me AGES to complete. It gave me difficulty because I wanted to be concise AND tackle a great deal, knowing I cannot cover EVERYTHING. It pushed me to focus on the larger picture and take a stab at prioritizing what needs to be done. For example, at work in late August, I was able to project manage the MBA1 LAUNCH Explore Day #1 (orientation focused on career-development for incoming full-time MBA students) which required big-picture thinking to get everyone on the same page, while being meticulous with details to check off the moving pieces on my list and making sure everything was sorted out in terms of everyone’s responsibilities and timelines (catering, panelists, slides, technology, staff guiding students to breakout sessions, etc).
b. What is the diversity measure of your personal/professional network? This questions one’s capacity to develop relationships with people who are different from one’s self–physically, functionally, socioeconomically, politically, biologically, culturally, etc—and despite differences, connect and trust each other enough to cooperate to achieve goals.
*What I’m going to say next after this sentence is going to sound an awful lot like an answer I’d use in an interview, but I have no shame in expressing it because I stand behind it 100%. I pride myself in being adaptable with a demonstrated ability in working effectively with people spanning multiple generations, ethnicities, backgrounds and experience across different industries. This comes from my genuine curiosity in others’ stories and experiences and my listening skills. Whether in my personal or professional life, I keep a diverse network because I want to hear different perspectives, ideas, and avoid groupthink the best I can. At work, I interact with various stakeholders different from myself with regard to gender, age, culture, and socioeconomic status. In my personal life, I have friends that are from all over the world who are entrepreneurs, writers and/or bloggers, designers, art directors, investment bankers, human resource professionals, nurses and physician assistants, speech pathologists, and higher education professionals. The more I have a level of understanding about others, the easier I find it is to collaborate and cooperate.
c. Are you courageous enough to abandon the past? A great leader cannot do what’s familiar and comfortable because great leaders dare to be different. Great leaders are not only talking about taking risks but they actually take risks and prepare themselves for the unknown possibilities of tomorrow rather than the predictability and comfort ability of yesterday. Great leaders need to exhibit EQ and know when to make tough decisions and when to take a step back and listen to others.
*I believe I am ready now. I haven’t been the best risk-taker as evidenced by my perfectionism with my blog and memo assignments. I was on and off with my blog because I wanted to make sure it was great and what I deemed “perfect” before launching a new theme and reorganizing the focus. There is no perfect, there is only progress. Before I knew it, 10 months passed by. Many of the posts I wrote in the past got traction from various social media sites like Facebook and Tumblr which linked to my blog so several weeks ago, so I decided to let it go and let the site be launched. I could get feedback and tweak my blog along the way. Feedback and improvement is a continuous process and a way to stay current. There is nothing worse than not starting. I’m beginning to take more risks and challenge myself to do things I’m most afraid of, pushing myself to the “learning zone”. The learning zone, as a wise man I met a few weeks back said “learning happens between the comfort and panic zones”. It happened to me with kickboxing and it happened with policies, systems, and manuals that were once was successful in the office at work. I used to really oppose change, but with time and experience under my belt, I feel that change is the only constant in life, and I plan to keep up with it, instead of against it.
I believe great leaders exhibit integrity, excellent communication skills, patience, focus, transparency, a level of humility, inspiration and innovation. This entails the ability to make others feel comfortable and at ease–mentally and physically, displaying and developing listening skills daily, having confidence in one’s own ability to handle challenges, being open to others’ input and suggestions, and be willing to learn and try new things even when processes are difficult.
What do YOU think makes a GREAT LEADER? Where are you looking to anticipate change, what is the diversity measure of your personal/professional network, and are you courageous enough to abandon the past?