I took a much needed vacation in mid-June during COVID-19. I needed refreshing and a few days to celebrate my birthday. I had a blast and was reminded of a lot of things… and learned some new things, too.
– One Reminder –
Walking in the sand is challenging! And then add on being tired from a fun full day, carrying the oversized cooler, beach chair, umbrella, and snack bag.
– One Learning –
Walking in the sand is not so challenging when you walk in other people’s footsteps.
These footsteps can be bigger or smaller than yours, maybe there’s that weird toe (I know you don’t have a weird toe, but other people do) or even two left feet. Any footsteps will allow you to trek the sand with more ease.
If I so choose, I can trek the sand a lot smoother if I use any path that is already available.
This reminder and learning led me to reflect on all the leaders who have gone before me. How can I utilize their learnings and make my journey a little smoother as I become a better leader? How can my leadership journey better serve those coming behind me?
Innumerable paths of great leaders are 2000+ years in the making. When it comes to the basics and fundamentals of being a great leader, there are no new paths.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King had numerous skills and gifts as a leader. One was that he was an incredible communicator and public speaker. His speeches still inspire people today.
He was also consistent. He stated in his first days of his social justice movement that he would not partake in any violence, only peaceful protesting. And anyone on his team would also follow suit. And he led with peace through every day of his movement.
Golly! This guy had the shortest leadership journey — just 3 years — and the longest lasting impact… 2000+ years as of yet. He was kind and compassionate with every single person He came in contact with. Not just his team of 12, not just the children, but everyone. He spoke with gentleness, respect and truth. He also asked good questions to guide people to the truth, allowing people space to determine their own needs before pointing them a certain direction.
Joan of Arc
Consider Joan of Arc, a female military leader in the early 1400s was unheard of and initially unlawful. Unable to read, write, and with little to no military training, Joan of Arc led France into a victorious battle during a long-running war with England. She didn’t allow her shortcomings nor her gender to keep her from fulfilling her calling — to free France from England.
She focused on what she had. And for the things she didn’t have, she asked. She was courageous in asking the right questions to the right people — asking the king at the time for her to lead the charge. Joan of Arc was also courageous in physically leading the troops into battle — a task initially considered unlawful for women to do. She did not avoid conflict – she tackled conflict head on. Joan of Arc led with courage and kept her purpose at the forefront.
Bonus: A Personal Leader of Mine
A personal leader of mine, my first mentor at WinShape Teams, Jesse Parrish, has been an incredible leader for me and for our organization. The first time I met Jesse, he got to know me as a person, eager to learn my life story, how I ended up in Rome, Georgia, and in my role at WinShape Teams. He genuinely wanted to know what gets me out of bed in the morning… besides breakfast. He observed me as I worked and learned what my gifts are. He taught me (along with the rest of the team) the fundamentals of being a good Facilitator (my first job at WinShape Teams).
And then, he trusted me. And he still does. He trusts I will care for clients and the team well. He trusts I know everything I need to know in order to be a good, impactful Facilitator. He allows space for me to make mistakes and graciously gives me even more space to keep learning.
Jesse knows me, he cares about me, he trusts me, and he gives me space to learn and grow on my own.
Learn from the Great Leaders who have paved the way before you.
All the fundamentals of a great leader have already been established, and thankfully we have history books, Google, and each other as resources to learn those fundamentals.
What each of us needs to do is learn. Learn from the great leaders of the past. Learn from great leaders who are in our present. How were they so impactful? How did they move forward and keep folks on board? How did they communicate and cast visions so well? What great leaders did/do they refer to?
A mentor at my first full time job once told me, “Jessie, the more I learn, the more I realize I have so much more to learn.” At that time, he was already 10 years into leading a division of 1,000 employees.
Want to be a great leader? Become a great student. Walk the paths that have already been made.
The reason WinShape Teams focuses on Team Essentials and the fundamentals of being a great leader is because it would take lifetimes to master all the fundamentals.
I encourage you to pick two fundamentals and master those. Some examples are communication, trust, problem-solving, or knowing and caring for your team well.
Do all the other fundamentals to the best of your abilities, but go ahead and master two.
Pay it forward.
Teach others through your actions and then share your learnings with anyone willing to listen. Publish those learnings (and send me a copy so I can learn, too!).
And what will be unique about you is HOW you lead with your particular passions, gifts and the fundamentals you master. Then you, too, can be one of the great leaders others will want to follow and learn from. Make those footsteps in the sand a little more defined and smoother for the next batch of leaders coming behind you.