MBA Musings: Leadership With Heart
Updated: May 19, 2019
For some people, leadership and compassion seem worlds apart. I refuse to work for "some people" ever again.
When I consider my personal and professional experience and how they work together, leadership has always been a topic that interested me. I have been a witness to exceptional leadership over the years. I have also had the great misfortune of enduring several master classes in horrible leadership.
I believe both ends of the spectrum were important and have helped shape the leader - as well as the follower - that I am today.
There are many people who inspire, motivate and impress me. Three who come to mind are author and leadership expert Simon Sinek, my mentor, Diana Rosa, and my nephew, Wes. I cannot count the many takeways and lessons all three of them have taught me. Here are a few that standout for me.
"Stress and anxiety at work have less to do with the work we do and more to do with weak management and leadership." - Simon Sinek
It has often been said that people quit their bosses, not their jobs. I would take it a step further and say that people quit toxic cultures. Ultimately it is the overall culture that allows poor leaders to stay and poison the well for their teams. When that is not addressed, you end up getting more of the same. High performing employees who are innovative and willing to put in the work for success simply will not stay. Simon Sinek gets it. Here is a great Ted Talk that explains the importance of knowing your "why". When you know that, it is crystal clear what you want to do, where you want to do it and how you will achieve your goals. And below is another TEDTalk where he explores what essentially amounts to psychological safety, something that I believe is the most important element of a culture where people thrive.
"Take a deep breath and think about your future and not the present." - Diana Rosa
Diana Rosa, my mentor and my former COO at a previous organization, sent me that message when I was in the throes of indescribable stress as I endured one of the most challenging leaders I have ever had. Her words were much more than a simple sentence on the screen of my iPhone. It was a lifeline. It was a reminder that I was bigger than the moment and that there would be a time when I would be able to say that I survived and even thrived in unbearable conditions. Ms. Rosa has inspired me to stay focused through so many changes in my life and for that I am grateful. She has become more than a mentor. She has become a sister and a friend. Her leadership style is contagious and she engages employees and brings out the very best of people everywhere she goes. One of the first things she did after I met her was give me a copy of Lead With Luv: A Different Way to Create Real Success. I highly recommend you add that to your leadership library if you have not already done so.
I cannot share a quote from my nephew, Wes, with you although there is nothing that I would love to do more. He is a beautiful boy who will be 10 in August. (Where does the time go?) Although he has grown like a weed, he has never uttered a word. He is autistic and unable to communicate verbally. Yet he is able to teach me and so many other people life lessons all the same. He has taught me the power of silence and the importance of connecting with people on a different level. Wes has taught me the power of connecting with people on an emotional, heart and soul level. Words are powerful, but it is the heart behind them that makes them so. I absolutely use the lessons he has shown me in the interactions I have both personally and professionally. Wes continuously teaches me to be patient, grateful and to focus on the things that really matter.
I am grateful for the lessons that these leaders teach me each and every day. I hope that I can impact even one person as much as they impact and shape me and the way that I lead.