how Do you demonstrate leadership?
Insights On Leadership From Professionals Across Industries.
"How do you demonstrate leadership?" I hadn't consciously reflected on that question until I was in grad school, where I learned the terminology to put to the behaviors, process, and strategy I'd witnessed through my career.
Professionally, it had started 20+ years earlier. I'd been a fitness department manager, responsible for supporting a team of 15-25 personal trainers.
I led through:
- The example my parents had set
- Modeling the behaviors and actions of mentors
- Knowledge of historical leaders
I didn't realize I was playing with fewer puzzle pieces than I would be later on.
Continuously Learning From Others.
I'd attribute some of my early success as a manager to self-confidence and the mindset that any failures meant I'd be learning that much faster.
However, the greatest impact came from the brilliant, disciplined, and passionate colleagues I was surrounded by, and their willingness to pass on what they'd learned.
Among those who come to mind from the early years are:
As I moved into Learning & Development I learned from:
- Allyson Donnelly Hatten
- Doug Hatten
- and Charles Inniss
In every change of role, company, or industry I found more people to learn from.
Each demonstrated leadership differently, challenged me to consider things from new perspectives, and then helped me to apply my learnings through my own unique leadership style.
What Learning From Others Looks Like Today.
My hybrid, career path and love of networking has introduced me to people of wonderfully diverse personal and professional experiences.
While I'm fortunate to learn from them near-daily, I'm ecstatic that some have been kind enough to join us today to share their reflections on demonstrating leadership with you.
Laura Mahoney | Owner, Laura Mahoney Fitness.
Demonstrating leadership is a skillset that can uplevel your career, even if you’re a quiet leader. As a natural introvert and follower, being pushed out of my comfort zone to be a (quiet) leader is one of the best things to happen to me. I have a new found confidence from learning strengths I never knew were in me and am happy to say that I can now be a teacher in my field. Without being open to a leadership mindset, I would not be the successful business owner as I am today.
My top mentor in the fitness industry was my first Fitness Manager. He was constantly trying to achieve more for the business and his own career, but he was beyond supportive and encouraging of me as a new personal trainer (and even a new, young resident of Boston). He demonstrated through action, but would also have check-ins with me to discuss the next thing (task, skillset, mindset point) I should work on (based on my current progress) so I could advance my career. His support, willingness to teach, and leadership is why I am still in the fitness industry today.
Seeing through examples is how I learn. I dissect behaviors, verbal communication, and try to mimic what I see to be successful. Having such a good leader from the start helped guide me to mimic what he did, though I did learn through my fair share of mistakes. Through the years I did see examples of “bad” leaders and was always able to compare those poor leadership skills to the good example I had, which ultimately shaped me into the leader I am today.
It’s ok to be a quiet leader. As a natural introvert, anxious, and quiet person, I thought I wasn’t cut out for “leadership,” even after being placed in leadership roles based on merit/organization skill sets. What I found is that leadership isn’t about how loud you are, it’s about the impact you can make on someone. Every person you interact with will respond differently to the same piece of information, but that means you can adapt to what they would respond best to. When you make these adaptations and keep showing up, you will gain the respect you need to be seen as a leader, no matter how quiet or loud.
Rick Mazzei | MAZE2WIN Sales Consulting LLC.
In simple terms, great leadership is critical for establishing the vision of the company and for inspiring others to achieve a common goal. Leaders set clear expectations and objectives and remain focused on achieving them, while staying aligned with the company’s values.
The most effective leaders are confident and authentic, with excellent communication skills and high EQ. They are usually curious and consistently demonstrate integrity and respect.
I have been fortunate to collaborate with many great leaders in my career – those who have inspired me to continue to learn and grow. Some were naturally gifted at recognizing people in front of a group for their accomplishments. One leader I worked for loved mistakes because he saw them as learning opportunities. At the time, this was important because our business was growing rapidly and sometimes chaotic. This gave my team and me the confidence and freedom to take risks and not be afraid to experiment to improve our processes.
If I could talk to my younger self and share the leadership skills I have learned in the last 35 years, I would start with the following list:
- Never stop learning ways to improve your skills or processes (from peers, colleagues, vendors, and customers).
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." ~ Albert Einstein
- Continue to develop your EQ (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management), which can improve over time (unlike IQ).
- Check in and listen to the people you lead and ask for feedback. Get comfortable with criticism and accept the truth.
- Continue to invest in the long-term development of your people (time, training, and resources).
"Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to." ~ Richard Branson
- Expect hard work and challenge your team to bring out the best in them and then demonstrate it by setting a good example.
"Great leaders don't succeed because they are great. They succeed because they bring out the greatness in others." ~ Jon Gordon
- Congratulate your team's wins and celebrate them along the way.
- Trust others to do their work.
- Tolerate mistakes and learn from them as this has a positive impact on culture.
- Be available and then, as one leader I worked for once said, "Be where you are."
- Be authentic and be yourself...so when adversity hits, people still recognize you.
A Key Takeaway.
What Laura and Rick have mentioned may resonate with you, whether you've had similar experiences with a mentor, or have explored some of the leadership skills listed.
The great news is that leadership is a learned skill.
No matter the stage of your career, whether you've just accepted your first professional role or if you're a seasoned veteran, you can create a plan for improvement. Through self-directed study, online coursework, mentorship, or certification classes, your options are endless.
Learn, apply, ask questions, and repeat, and you'll be well on your way to demonstrating leadership effectively.
Thank You To Our Guest Contributors.
It's a pleasure to have Laura and Rick share their wisdom with us today.
For more insights, be sure to click on the links underneath each of their pictures to reach their LinkedIn profiles and to follow their posts.
For More On Organizational Leadership.
This section of the site is an excellent foundation for developing leadership skills, understanding different types of leadership, and exploring leadership styles.
To continue your learning:
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive
P.S. - Have a question about leadership? Ask away here.
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