What is “Success” in leadership?

Recently, my boss had me watch a Ted Talk as part of my leadership development by Simon Sinek, author of “Leaders Eat Last”, and in this talk he discusses why certain companies are wildly successful in comparison to their counterparts in the very same industries; he uses Apple and every other computer company as an example.

Here is the video if you’d like…

Everything he is saying about leadership makes sense – and he comes back to, more than once, its not “how and what you do its WHY you do it”… and if you don’t believe in the WHY and let that lead you then you are simply mediocre and won’t be as successful as someone who leads with their “why”… You “sell people” what you believe – and you lead with what you believe and if you can’t make others believe it… then they will simply be punching in and out – so to speak.

I have struggled with this thought ever since watching this video because how can I truly get passionate about corporate finance?

I understand that what we do is really important work for securing the futures of the masses and creating a personalized approach to investing for the future. I utilize our services and this is the first time I have ever worked with an investor where I felt like someone truly cared about my dollars and that I was not simply “small fries” in dollars. I feel really supported because that is our company’s philosophy – I call my advisor for ANYTHING and he calls me back and will talk me through the answer and make sure I understand it; he is fully transparent and I trust him with our future. That said, my trouble with growing into a great leader is that I am having trouble translating what I do into something “passionate” that will inspire others to see my ability to lead as inspiring. I enjoy what I do in the sense that I like analytics and playing with budgets and auditing and compliance and keeping things in order so to speak – but I never wake up and go “YES! Let’s go make today FUN, INSPIRING, and AMAZING, in the Finance division today!”…

How do I translate what I do into something I can lead with our “Why?”… and not simply leading because I’ve put in the work to ‘lead’ in school and by way of mentoring and not just leading with ‘What’ we do?

How do you derive passion, and lead, in something you are good at when simply being good at *yourself* is insufficient for being a good leader?

I read a lot – like a lot – I listen to audio books during most of my solitary activities at home and at work and at the gym, etc. I feel so disconnected from the messages in some of these books and I want to get better and *be* better at what it means to be a good leader – so I listen to all the perceived “great” leaders. Brene Brown on vulnerability was a huge game-changer for me… I struggle with an often refuse to be vulnerable – if you have ever done the work on your Enneagram Type – I am an 8w7. A solid 8 in its entirety. I refuse to let people see me vulnerable – but Brene Brown’s book taught me that good leaders can be and are vulnerable and make human connections with human emotions with their team. I was listening to our managing partner speak at our last division meeting – she is the first female managing partner and I admire her messages a lot. During our last division meeting, in her floral printed track suit and turquoise nails and wedge sandals – someone asked her a question that could have had a very basic, all-business, answer but instead she paused and said “If you’ll all allow me to be vulnerable for a moment…” and I was immediately uncomfortable *for* her like… “No, you’re a woman – do not be vulnerable in front of 300 people right now. Don’t do it. Women don’t do this in the corporate world.” and she went on to talk about how she wants to be a great leader to this company and is continuously introspective on how to be a good leader and ensuring she has the right people at the table to ensure she is taking our company in the right direction. She constantly asks herself if, as a leader, what she is saying/proposing/doing is specifically inspiring instead of just making us push the buttons and turn the widgets…

My leader, for example, praises me on all of my positive traits and skills and pushes me to expand upon those and aids me in getting the resources I need to do that. But he is not afraid of providing constructive feedback so that I can improve. I will, also, say that when I was a leader before I was not a very effective one. Nobody was happy and most were frustrated by the system we all existed within – myself included. I was far too unhappy with the institution and how we were all being treated to effectively lead – there was nothing to lead *to*… it was simply keeping things moving along and I did not have the support from the top to develop and grow us as a team or myself as a leader. Presently, I am in a place for the first time where I truly feel like developing me and supporting me is a priority so I would say if I had any opportunity to be successful as a leader – this one is it.

I think I can start there by asking myself if what I am doing/saying/leading with is inspiring or is just making those who look to me to lead push the buttons and turn the widgets and keep the lights on… versus truly making them feel good about showing up and making them feel inspired to put in the work because it satiates some intrinsic satisfaction in them; that for me is seeing the efficacy data of the different initiatives I am working on. Now, I need to do that for others and go from there to determine how I fit into our “Why?” and how to lead from there.

Are you a leader? How have you improved your leadership capabilities? What is some positive feedback you’ve received as a leader? What was your best experience with a leader – and what was your worst?

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