Last year was a year of tremendous growth, and I did a lot of reflection. This is long and you may not agree with it all, but this is what came to me. (I’m always thinking and reflective of my day. This is long, but it’s just how I’m feeling).
My thoughts on Leadership:
I’ve learned that words matter.
I’ve learned that as a leader I can’t always say what’s on my mind. I’m learning to ask these questions: Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Is it a universal truth? Will it matter tomorrow? If it is or isn’t, does it really need to be said?
I’ve learned I’m not always privy to the freedoms I fight for.
I’ve learned that Freedom of Speech doesn’t entirely extend to me. I am bound by regulations, instructions and policies that dictate otherwise-and often for good reason.
I’ve learned that I’m an ambassador whether I want to be or not. What I say can be taken as the views of an entire organization and I don’t speak on behalf of anyone but me. We all have a different story and different beliefs under the same org structure.
I’ve learned that everything I think or believe, doesn’t have to be said. I have to choose my words wisely because I can’t take them back.
I’ve learned that my social media is not my own. Everything I post can be screenshot or shared in an instant.
I’ve learned that my posts can have either a positive or negative impact on those I lead, so I choose the former. Positivity wins!
I’ve learned that my messages can have unintended consequences if used recklessly. Those who I’m in charge of leading may lose faith in my ability to lead fairly and objectively, and those above me may lose trust in my ability to do the same.
I’ve learned that as a leader my views may offend some, and in a leadership position it is my responsibility to keep that margin small. I cannot be effective if those who I lead don’t believe I care about them. So I refer to the questions stated above. Is it...?
I’ve learned that everyone’s experience is not my own. If I can’t sympathize, I must try to empathize. Just because my experience is different, doesn’t mean theirs isn’t a reality. It is my responsibility to get to know the people I lead, where they come from, what affects them, and try to imagine myself walking a day in their shoes so that I know how to help, heal, inspire, motivate, and develop them into good leaders despite their circumstances.
I’ve learned that I cannot reach/teach everyone. Everyone isn’t my assignment and that’s okay. I do however need to know when a person is beyond my help and be mature enough to hand them off to someone better suited to help them. I understand that if I don’t, I can hurt more than help.
I’ve learned that sometimes I’m a tiller (breaking the ground, shaking stuff up), sometimes a planter, sometimes a waterer, sometimes the warmth that makes the conditions right for germination, sometimes I’m a weeder (removing things that try to kill potential), or a barrier like mulch, sometimes pollinator, sometimes a tender, and sometimes I’m just in time for the harvest.
I’ve learned that sometimes you won’t know what part you played or even if you played one at all, until years later when you see that fruit bear fruit. Just because you don’t see growth right away, doesn’t mean a person isn’t growing. Most growth starts deep down beneath the surface, buried in dirt anyway. By the time we see the plant, most of the hard work has already been done
I’ve learned that my role as a leader is one that I take seriously. I know that I have a huge responsibility and that peoples lives are in my hands. How I speak to them, how I treat them, and how I handle their issues can make or break some and that is a huge responsibility to bear. I know that I can’t do it alone. I ask for guidance from my guidance and pray for the best outcome.
I’ve learned I don’t always get it right, but I always try to do what I believe is right at the time.
I’ve helped save some, and lost others, but when asked if I tried to do all I can, my answer is mostly yes. I say mostly because failure is inevitable. I went through a lot to know what I know, and it took some hard falls to get where I am. I just pray that the gains always outnumber losses by a large margin.
I’ve learned that I’m responsible for what I say and to whom I say it. I’ve learned that my words can hurt or heal and I can’t take that lightly. I’ve learned that while my views may be one thing, I may have someone who works for me who feels differently. I’ve learned I have to make that person feel as valued as the one who shares my opinion.
I’ve learned that you have to make hard and unpopular calls, but I’ve also learned you don’t have to make people feel like crap when you do. I don’t have to coddle, but I still make sure they feel cared for.
I’ve learned that I can control the narrative of my communication (or a large part of it) by asking the aforementioned questions, and today I choose to make my words positive.
I’ve learned that as I grow and mature my thoughts may change, but for today, here they are...