It’s the Who Not the How

About 10 years into my career as a leader, I acknowledged that just as easily as I could identify my strengths as a leader, where I felt passionate, where I saw people coming to me, I could just as easily say, “Hey, I’ve got gaps.” But it was harder for me to identify exactly what those gaps were.

There were other leaders that I was just mesmerized by, I just thought they were unbelievable. And then I would hear from my peers about their leaders as they would tell me how amazing they were, and I’m thinking, “Okay, I want more of that, but what IS that?!” I wasn’t sure what it was. So I reached out to some of those leaders, the ones that I observed being amazing or that I heard from other people that were amazing, and I set up time with them to ask, what is it that you believe makes you a good leader?

What are things you’ve learned on your leadership journey, what are you thinking about?

I had a call with a particular VP who had a very opposite personality to me; I tend to be very extroverted, and I use big facial expressions and hand gestures all the time. This leader appeared, from the outside at least, to be a little bit more introverted, a little more serious. So I was extremely intrigued to know what his secret was, what really kept him going and made his team see him as an extraordinary leader.

He shared with me that he went into every single conversation, situation, and experience, always with curiosity. That was it; it was all about asking questions and staying curious, but I knew that wasn’t a strength of mine. I didn’t know how to do it. So I asked him, how do I learn how to do that? And he gave me a recommendation that I followed through on.

If you have an area, something that you are trying to become better at, but you’re not sure either exactly how to pinpoint what it is, or you know what it is but you’re not sure how to do it, I invite you today to take a step back and think about your network, people that you interact with either professionally or personally, and say, “Okay, who do I know that possesses these qualities? Who has achieved this? Who do I see that I would love to emulate?”

And just pick up the phone, text, email, call, reach out and ask for a bit of their time. Have some questions, find out what it is they’re doing, and then ask how they learned to do it. It’s a bit of a shortcut for you, but it also helps you learn from the best, versus just going out there and trying to find where the answers lie. Go to the source, go to those people that you are just taken by that you know they’ve got what you want, and go ask them how you can get it!