Being Smart Doesn’t Make you a Great Leader

If you’re a leader, this topic might sting a little. But – that’s where growth really happens so I encourage you to lean in to the discomfort and listen to my thoughts on this.  So often when I’m working with organizations, businesses or leaders they place their highest emphasis on the credentials and the education […]

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If you’re a leader, this topic might sting a little. But – that’s where growth really happens so I encourage you to lean in to the discomfort and listen to my thoughts on this. 

So often when I’m working with organizations, businesses or leaders they place their highest emphasis on the credentials and the education and the degrees and training that they have. But what they lack to realize is that just because you have the technical training or education, doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to take what you’ve learned in a book and apply it to real life. I have seen so many incredibly intelligent, driven humans with incredible potential but they are trapped by what they have learned in a book. And a key factor is missing when it comes to transforming them into those really great leaders. 

Here’s my opinion on this: 

It doesn’t matter what degrees you have. What credentials are behind your name. What experience you have.  

Sure, those things will “get the job done”. 

But they don’t make you a great leader. 

In this week’s podcast, I’m going to share my thoughts about the 5 things that DO make great leaders – and not one of them has to do with your education, your credentials, your experience or your knowledge 🙌

Listen to episode 70 here: http://bit.ly/CHANGEbyCHOICEpodcast 

1 – Your People Are Your Top Priority

You can have all the process, the technical smarts, the education – but if you don’t put your people first in terms of making sure you’re setting them up for success, then you are missing the mark. If you aren’t making sure they feel supported by you, where they understand that you’re there to lead them and you want them to grow, where they know it’s okay for them to make mistakes  – then you’re missing the mark. Make your people your biggest asset, and make sure they know it. 

And if you’re thinking to yourself “well I have a great team and they get lots done”, that’s great but I want to challenge you here: is it short-term, fear based? Or is it long-term, respect based? 

No one is perfect here, but if we want to do better, we need to acknowledge areas like this one. It’s not about being a “soft” leader; it’s about being someone who challenges people to be their best and wants them to perform at their best. But they give their people the tools, insights and feedback they need to get there. They make their people fear heard and valued and they give them their time. Create a trusting relationship where you can share your feedback with them and they will take it to heart because they know that your intention is for their growth. 

Your actions speak louder than your words; don’t just be the leader who says that your people matter. Prove it with your actions. 

2 – Allow Yourself to Screw Up

When I think back to the most extraordinary leaders I’ve had in my life, none of them stand out because they did things perfectly. If they made a mistake or showed up in a way that wasn’t to their best, they owned it and cleaned it up quickly. It’s never about being perfect. 

When we are really in tune with ourselves, we know when we haven’t been at our best. And where I see leaders go wrong is when, instead of owning their mistake and cleaning it up, they make excuses and justify why they shouldn’t have to. It doesn’t make you any less of a leader to admit mistakes and apologize and clean up your messes. 

Observe what your patterns are here; does that work for you? Is that the best of you? How would you want people describing your legacy and your leadership in 20 years down the road? It’s such a powerful exercise to flash forward and really look at the reality; if you continue down the path you are on, what would that reality be? 

We are going to screw up sometimes. But nothing builds trust and respect more than the person who doesn’t wait to own it and clean it up. And it’s not a false apology. If you’re going to own something or apologize, you fully own it and then change action. Nothing destructs trust quicker than all words and no action. 

3 – Keep it Real

People do not want perfect, polished, fake, “have it all together” leadership. That’s not real. Now, I’m not saying have a lack of professionalism, but don’t hold yourself on such a pedestal that you seem untouchable. You should be able to share when you’ve made a mistake and use it as learning opportunities to train and connect with your people. That will help you create such an incredible base of respect, trust, real rawness. How open are you with your team? Are you setting a bar so high that nobody can relate to it? Are you sharing your own journey? 

If you’re not, you might be inadvertently creating an environment in which everyone else has to pretend like things are perfect because they think that’s the standard. 

4 – Have Emotional Intelligence 

There’s this false myth out there that emotion and leadership can not mix; that leadership is strong, emotionless. This is just not the world we live in today. I do believe you can have the best of both worlds with your leadership. 

Within our company, we have a value base that helps us decide who we hire and who we work with. And some might look perfect “on paper”, but when you start to talk to them, it’s just not the right fit. It doesn’t necessarily feel right based on who they are, what values they exhibit, how they speak about people, the questions they ask (or don’t), their balance between listening and speaking. 

The best leaders know how to navigate both worlds – the objective credentials and experience and tasks and productivity, but also the personalities, the emotions and the nuances. 

5 – Lead by Example

Be the role model; the strongest way that we can connect to being influential is by people seeing and absorbing how you’re doing things, how you communicate, how you show up, how you clean up and what your priorities are. 

If they don’t see you doing it, do not expect them to do it. And if they are doing it, at some point, they aren’t going to want to do it anymore. You will lose great people. 

Connect into your legacy. What do you value? How do you want to show up and what changes do you want to make to get there? Remember that actions speak louder than words. You have to be that role model. 

And share that vision with your team. I always share with my team: this is who I am, what you can expect from me, what I expect from you and what we are working towards. And then I role model it every single day. And when I make a mistake, I own it and clean it up. 

I have one final thought on all of this, and why it matters SO damn much – the people you lead, they go home to families. They spend so much of their time at work and you matter in their world. You can make or break someone’s experience in life based on how you’ve shown up as a leader. I want you to let that sink in. Those people go home to their partners and children. They have your words and your tone and your intention in their minds. 

If we want to shift how the world shows up and we want to shift how our children grow up, we play a huge role in that. If people are going home and they hate their job and they hate their manager and they are bringing home toxic energy that ripples out to their families, then we are not doing a good enough job. And it is why I do what I do with Thrive, why this has been the path of my work, it’s so that we shift human beings so that we can be our best selves. And it matters how we show up. It absolutely matters. There is a ripple from every single one of us and that ripple changes people. 

PS – Want to join our community of women who are leading, scaling & growing (with the help of our expert team of coaches and consultants)? Click here for exclusive info on my upcoming program, The Female Founders Club!

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