4 Questions Every Leader Should Ask Themselves
On Wednesday 23rd August, The Grand Clapham hosted the 3rd Annual, I Have A Dream Conference. The hard work had been completed, all that was needed were the audience, speakers, panelists, hosts and the team who were in place to ensure that everything went smoothly.
The evening began and the audience hushed as they began to listen to the dulcet tones of poetry maker Jolade and the encapsulating vocals of Barbella. The night proceeded with speakers, musicians and then after a short break the leadership panel slot was upon us.
As I walked out on stage, I could see the warm, welcoming smiles of the audience, which is always reassuring to see.
Many times, I have had to be the one to warm up an audience, to loosen their mouths up to smile, to entice their hands to clap and to touch their hearts with words that would life their spirit. But luckily that had been done for me this evening.
LEADERSHIP Q&A PANEL
Georgie Sheaf the facilitator, swiftly introduced the panel Renay Taylor, Charles Sekwalor and myself, then the questions kicked off.
It’s funny because sometimes you think you know what you are going to say, then it can completely go out the window when you begin.
I can be quite spontaneous so just can go with the flow of what my unconscious mind wants to say in the moment.
So now upon reflection and because I have more time, I wanted to expand upon the great questions that were asked, in the hope that it will further your own development and leadership skills.
The questions that were asked, were as follows
1. WHAT DOES LEADERSHIP MEAN TO YOU?
This was a great question because leadership is such a broad topic and hence you will always get a vast variety of answers.
Leadership for me falls under 3 main categories:
A. Leadership of Yourself
This is a really great place to start. As in life the only thing you can fully control is yourself, you can’t control others. That is great news because that means you get to soar to great heights in your life without any limits. Sadly we can sometimes be the ones that put the limits on ourselves and what is possible in life.
So there are key things to begin to master so you can be limitless in life:
Being Your Word – This is one of the most powerful things you have in the world – YOUR WORD. In this context, I mean doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. As you have declared it into existence.
It starts with learning to honour your word and if for any reason you break, restoring it as soon as possible, are the traits of a great leader. This means having a conversation with somebody if you broke your word to them, so that you and them don’t consciously and unconsciously carry it around with you unresolved. Many times people drag with them unresolved situations, unsaid communications into the next encounter with that said person and wonder why their relationship is strained.
And also very importantly, learn how keep your word to yourself. So people are very good at keeping their word to other people but when it comes to themselves they let themselves down al the time.
If you say you are going to do something, whether it is going to the gym, getting up early, writing that book, Do It. That is where the power lies. When nobody is looking, be your word. You will feel bigger within yourself when you do this and know yourself to be truly awesome. If you don’t honour your word, then don’t beat yourself up and feel terrible about it. That isn’t going to help anyone. Just restore your word to yourself and move on.
Responsibility – As a leader if you take on 100% of the responsibility for situations whether they go right and when they do wrong, it means that you will eventually ensure it’s success.
You might say “Hey, I can lead a horse to the water but I can’t make it drink,” in this scenario I am saying “it is your responsibility to ensure the horse drinks.”
Why would I say that. Because many times leaders blame their team or outside circumstances and when you do that, even though it might be true, if you take that stance, then it means you usually stop at finding a solution, finding a new pathway for the next time and it was out of your control.
If you took responsibility you will say things like “how can I ensure that doesn’t happen the next time?” “what do I need to do to ensure that my team-mate gets the results they need?” “how can I improve this situation?”
If a small situation like myself meeting somebody at 6pm and they turned up at 7pm. Now yes they need to take responsibility for being late but I said to myself “how can I be responsible for this?” My answer was ensure I text somebody the day I meet them, ensuring they are still coming, that they know the time and location. Thereby ensuring there is no miscommunication. Small things count.
By taking responsibility, by being that way in the world, will ensure you grow not only as a leader but as a person who can take on anything in the world.
Performance – Here you need to lead by example. The only thing that actually produces results in life are Actions. Therefore, you should ensure that you are always doing the things that firstly you said you would do and secondly lead by example.
If your results are not what you would like, then look at the actions you are taking. There will be some correlation between the two. What is missing? What do you need to do, to ensure you get the results you desire in the long term? Are you focusing on your vision, your main goal or have your got sidetracked.
Your Thoughts Serve You – We are meant to have around 60,000 thoughts a day, which link into our feelings, so it makes sense to begin to have some mastery over them.
What do I mean mastery over your thoughts? What will ensure you are a great leader is knowing how to not pay attention to those thoughts that don’t serve you. Thoughts such as “I can’t do this,” “this is too hard,” “what were you thinking taking on that project, you need to pass it onto somebody else.”
Remember they are just thoughts. You don’t need to stop the thought in your head and have a full blown conversation with it, which in fact, gives it more life to breath, growth, filters into your feelings and then into some action that usually won’t serve you. It is just a thought which essentially you made up anyway.
So I encourage embrace paying attention to thoughts that serve you and leave the ones that don’t to pass on by. See ya!
B. Leadership of Others
Two of the most challenging things you will deal with in life is “yourself” and “other people,” so I think it is a good idea to continually develop in these areas.
Spend time finding out what is important to people, especially those close to you and your team. This is where the power is. Understanding how they function, why they function how they do and how the world occurs to them is where real leadership steps up.
In order to know how to get the best of your team, you need to firstly as mentioned above a) understand them, b) as a team all be aligned in the vision, mission and strategy alignment of the organisation and lastly c) your team needs to be heard, valued and respected whilst you work together.
Lastly as a leader, learn how to enrol others into your idea, vision and mission is a really important skill to master. Those that can inspire, enrol and get results will always stand out as leaders.
Be Passionate. Great Communicator. Integrity. Confidence. Commitment.
Positive Attitude. Delegate. Inspiration. Be A Great Decision Maker. Charismatic.
C. Leadership in The World
Leadership in the world. What do I mean by this? Well, what are people saying about you in the world? What will your statement be? What will your legacy be?
This is the world’s view of your leadership. Great leadership can be seen by the fruit of their actions, leading empires, are the likes of Richard Branson, Oprah or Bill Gates.
Great leadership leaves clues and can be seen in the world.
Not everyone is going to be a Barrack Obamas or Helen Kellers in the world but you will make your mark in the world in your own unique way.
Whether it is in your community, your family, your business or your country, if you start really embracing and living into your greatness, it will show up on the court.
Remember great leadership leaves clues.
2. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FOUND IN YOUR LEADERSHIP JOURNEY?
I remember the first time I curated TEDxYouth@Croydon, I garnered a huge team of 12. It was great because many hands make light work, but not so great if you are like how I was, a micro-manager.
I had the “no one can do it better than me” syndrome and ensured everything, no matter how minuscule was passed through me before moving on to the next phase. You might think that this is fine, is it? When eventually you feel like you are heading 5 leadership role departments; events, speaking curation, production, communication and registration, it eventually got too overwhelming.
And as I said before, by taking responsibility that I had created this, I realised that the team wasn’t growing.
I heard a lovely quote that said “You get your greatness, when you enable others to get theirs.” That is it. I learnt that if I didn’t enrol them into their greatness and let them take the lead, within this team they wouldn’t grow. They wouldn’t feel heard. They wouldn’t feel valued. I wasn’t treating them as if they were already GREAT, which they were. This shifted everything.
The second year of the event, I gave more autonomy to my team leaders and let them make decisions without me. It was hard letting go of the reigns but I learn to trust their judgement which not only helped them to grow but also gave me valuable time to do things that really did need my attention.
So remember “You get your greatness, when you enable others to get theirs.”
3. HOW HAVE YOU TAKEN STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR LEADERSHIP AND BUILD A GREAT TEAM AROUND YOU?
Over the past 20 years, I have spent well in excess of £80,000 on personal and professional development. Why? Because the more I educate myself with personal development and vocational skills, the more I have to offer to the world and be a contribution.
People can tell when somebody had spent time developing themselves. You can see it. The way they walk. The way they talk. The air of confidence and self-assuredness they have about them is tantalising engaging.
I have read most of the personal development books. Greats like:
– Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
– 7 Habits of Highly Successful People – Steven Covey
– The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
– Change your Thinking, Change your life – Brian Tracey
– Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren
and attended personal development courses such as:
– The awesome Landmark Worldwide
– John Demartini – Breakthrough Experience
– Tony Robbins – Unleash the Power Within
– T. Harv Eker – Millionaire Mindset
and many more…
I not only enjoy them but most importantly I put most things I learn into practice, or else you just lose it in the memory banks of our vast brain.
So educate yourself. The money you spend on that, you will earn back 10, 20, 50 times in your lifetime.
4. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE TOLD YOUR 21 YEAR OLD SELF?
There are 4 things I would tell my 21 year old self.
1. That life is a precious gift, so don’t waste it. Don’t waste time and take opportunities that come your way. You will work it out as you go along and you will be fine. Trust yourself and don’t be afraid of anything. It always works out in the end.
2. All we have is NOW. There is no tomorrow (as when it comes it is today), there is no past (only your memory of a past) therefore the only thing that matters is the actions you take in the moment. So don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t put things off. Live for today and Love the moment.
3. What makes life rich are the people around you. We are all special. We all have greatness within us. See people for who they really are Whole, Perfect and Complete. Treat them as such as you will usually get the best out of them. Surround yourself with people who lift you up to your greatness and nurture those relationships. Connection is one of the most precious things we can have in life.
4. Lastly, know that life is a miraculous journey. The end results don’t always matter. It is how you spent your time in that journey. The lessons you learn. The people’s whose lives you touched. The legacy you leave for the next generation.
Enjoy it and know that you are SPECIAL.