October 12, 2023

5 Leadership Lessons to Unlock Your Voice and Elevate Your Business

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Today’s conversation on the podcast is all about leadership. And I want to remind you right from the top, that leadership is a journey. It’s a continuous journey towards growth and evolution. It is intimate. It is stretching. It is revealing. It is hard. It requires courage. It requires consistency. It requires conviction and commitment. And to put your hand up to be a leader, is one of the most important, impactful, and some of the most meaningful work that you can do. And it’s also some of the deepest, most intimate, personal development work that you can do.

In my experience, leadership is really about relationships, right? Becoming a great leader is really about relationships. And what do you know about relationships, to be in a successful relationship? It starts with you. So as you’re growing your team, as you’re growing your business, as you’re growing your company, you’re inviting in more relationships. And more relationships equals more mirrors and more mirrors are more invitations for you to really look at yourself and to grow and evolve and notice where you’re responding, where you’re reacting. Notice what gets activated within you. And there’s so much to learn there.

We’re going to dive into that a little bit more today, but I just want to remind you at the top that nothing about leadership is linear. There are seasons that you can really have it all. I figured out and together and things are jiving and then things are clicking and then boom! One thing happens and we can question ourselves or something can be a little bit shaky and someone leaves the company or there’s a bad experience that you have, or you become hard on yourself for something that you wish you had said. All of these things can happen. They’re all totally normal. And so I want you just to recognize that and just remind you that this isn’t the linear path. It isn’t a linear path at all. So when I was thinking about the conversation that I wanted to bring to the table today, I just wanted to share some lessons learned and some of these have shown up in some of my groups recently. I could do lessons learned all day. So I’ve chosen five leadership lessons today, and there’s probably like a hundred more. So we’ll just start here.

Five Leadership Lessons That I Wish I Knew Sooner

The first one is being yourself. Fearing authenticity or fearing being yourself in leadership, I see this happen quite often. And for myself, this really showed up over the years of trying to squeeze myself into a model or squeeze myself into a box of how I saw other people lead or what the books were telling me to do. And I’m all for the books. I’m sitting in front of a bookshelf with a stack of books that have the perfect formula, how to have tough conversations, how to build culture, all the things from all the great ones. And there are so many amazing things there. And it’s important that as a leader, you also carve your own path and find your own way to do things and you do it from a place of authenticity.

And so what does that mean in leadership? What does that mean in business authenticity? Are you in alignment with your personal values? Are you in? Are you leading from a place of alignment with those values, are those values alive and felt and experienced in your company?

If you’ve been listening to this podcast, I love talking about core values. It’s one of my favorite sessions that I do with teams. And with owners as well, because when our values are alive in our companies, when our values are alive in our culture, when our values are felt, the whole experience of our business is turned on. You can feel vitality in it, things feel in flow, they feel good. They feel like you. And I think the journey to leadership is really just this journey to becoming your most authentic self. And when we can align that with our culture, with how we lead, how we do things, how we communicate, how we build, I think that is our differentiator.

Your authenticity could be your greatest strength. As a leader, your authenticity could be the differentiator between you and a similar company or someone else in your industry. It could be your secret sauce, right? And where I see emerging leaders stepping into leadership for the first time or tenured leaders that have been out a long time, but they’re feeling a level of friction or frustration in their business. Because generally, when we unpack it in a conversation, we find that they’re trying to fit into a mold. They’re trying to. They’re reading verbatim from a book and then trying to apply it into their business. But we’re also different. And there’s just so much opportunity to infuse parts of you into your company. What could that look like for you, like being yourself? Are you your fully expressed self in your business? Are you your fully expressed self in your leadership? Are you trying to follow a mold or are you really just showing up and you’re just being you? And is there more space for you to be your authentic self in your business? So think about that. Where are you following some sort of mold that might not be working?

What could that look like for you? This is the simple reminder that you being you is where your culture gets to be formed. And your culture is the bedrock to your business. So how could you be more you? How could you let more of your authentic self shine? What does that look like? What is the founder’s story? Are you sharing that publicly? How are you hosting your meetings? Are they fun? Does your team feel the experience of things that are important to you in your culture? And maybe there’s small little ways that you could start renovating and adding a little bit more of your authentic self into your business.

The second leadership lesson that I wish I knew sooner was to hire slower. And we’ve all heard it before, like hire slow fire fast, but truly hiring slow is important. There’s a lot to consider when hiring someone. And what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s really important to not just hire someone because you like them. In fact, what I’ve really learned is that just because you like them doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy working with them. It’s actually to take the time to build a proper onboarding experience or interview experience that allows you to see how they will shine in their role. So I love to use personality assessments. I am a disc facilitator so I help facilitate the disc personality test. There’s also some free assessments out there. Like Myers-Briggs, like StrengthsFinder, you have to pay for that. There’s also Colby, things like that. Those are really powerful personality assessments.

To get a sense of the strengths that are being added into your culture. Hiring on strengths, hiring on potentially even hiring for the opposite of what your strengths are or what your current team structure strengths are, is really going to allow you to have a nice balance and a nice dynamic in your company. And as well to help you be sure that you’ve got the right person in the right seats. It can be really tempting in the hiring process to want to hire people that are just like you. You’re like, “I like that person. I feel like I could get along with them.” I have made that mistake before and moved into a relationship too quickly based on what I thought how I felt it was going to be working with that person. But what I realized over the years is that what I was attracted to them was the visionary nature or a quick-start nature, which are qualities that I have and I hold the visionary and as the CEO.

What I’ve learned over the years is that it’s not actually great to have another person on the team that has those similar strengths as me, because there’s no one to execute. So we have to know who are our visionaries, who are integrators? Who are the people that love doing and our master doers versus who are the people that are really great at the ideas and the thinking, right? So that we can not only innovate, but we can also move things forward and get things done.

Really beautiful cultures and really beautiful teams are based on the cultures that allow everybody’s strengths to shine. So how are we leveraging our team members’ strengths in our companies? And when we can really figure out where they play their best. How we can leverage their zone of genius? That’s where we have a strengths based culture and really that’s where momentum can build from, and it’s this juicy alignment and flow that you got the right people in the right seats and we’re moving in the right direction.

I’m a big believer that instead of having people work on their weaknesses, I really like to say, how can we instead dial up your strengths? Imagine if your whole role was just spent in the things that really lit you up, that you were really good at, that was your zone of genius. Like the energy of your company, the energy of your team would just be phenomenal. Think about that for yourself. If I could just show up every day and do what I love the most, that’s the goal! So think about that for you. How could you take a little bit of extra time in your hiring process? How can you slow it down?

Really thinking holistically about what are the current strengths on my team? What is the essence of this role that we need? Way further than just thinking about the job description and the role that needs to be done. There’s a lot to consider there. It’s like starting a relationship and building a relationship. So we want to really take the time to understand what that experience is going to look like and feel like from the inside out.

The third lesson learned is about embracing imperfection. Let it be imperfect. What I have learned over the years through my own experiences is this, just opening yourself up, letting it be imperfect. Writing yourself a permission slip to be imperfect. And letting yourself be vulnerable. So in leadership, it’s often the leader who should have all the answers. We are at the top. We should know all the right things to do all the right things to say, but truly that’s not. It’s not possible, especially in this world right now in how quickly everything is moving. There’s no playbook for this world. Like the playbook for this world is how well, you know yourself, what are your values and how much do you trust yourself? And that is so important in leadership right now.

I think vulnerability means having the courage to say, I don’t know all of the answers, but I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to lead. I’m willing to take it day by day. I’m willing to walk forward in the dark and I’m willing to take some rests. And so often in leadership, we can sit in the back waiting for the perfect answer, waiting for the perfect script. Waiting for the perfect thing to say. The perfect timing, the perfect invitation. Oh, I just need to learn more or figure it out more, but honestly, perfection freezes us and holds us back. And that can really keep you in that cycle in your business. You might get stuck in a plateau. You might stay in the same place. You might miss an opportunity to take a stand for something really important. You might miss an opportunity to shape and mold who you are as a leader. By letting yourself be imperfect.

The biggest lessons learned that I have had in my leadership journey, the biggest breakthroughs that have happened in my career, in my business, in my leadership, they have always come from some kind of, whether it’s a breakdown or some kind of failure. It is the lessons learned here that shape you and develop your leadership. So we have to give ourselves permission. Recently, one of the women in one of my mastermind groups, I was supporting her and her team with a deep dive session on values. We went through the session and then on the other side of it, I always do an integration call. We had a great experience with our team. It was amazing. And then we did an integration call and the integration call is all about how are we going to operationalize this? What are the next steps? And she vulnerably shared with me that she was feeling some trepidation about enforcing the values or, encouraging them or sending the email or inviting people to come on this journey with her and take this a step further. And I asked her why, and what we determined after we peeled back the layers a little bit was there’s this fear of being too much. There’s a fear of rejection. There’s a fear of being a burden and these things are so common. I really hear this a lot at the table with other leaders. These old wounds, these old stories, these old beliefs, they can show up right when we’re about to step forward and really lead and lead ourselves into the next level.

Perfection can hold us back. And that shrinks us. That locks up our voice. It’s this hiding in the back. It’s just tolerating how things are instead of courageously saying, you know what, I’m going to let them see me. I’m going to let them hear me. And I know many of us want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to be understood. And we want to be respected as a leader. And in order to do that, we also have to let ourselves say the wrong thing sometimes. We have to let ourselves tremble sometimes. We have to let our voice creek and we have to let it be imperfect. But when we write ourselves this permission slip to let it be imperfect, we are stepping into deeper self-trust. It’s practice. We have to practice the things that we want them want more of. And so if you want to be seen. If you want to be heard, if you want to be understood, if you want to be acknowledged. You have to let them see you. You have to let them hear you. And that starts with practicing. So write yourself a permission slip to let it be imperfect. How can you practice using your voice in ways that feels like a nice step forward, like a nice sampling forward. One of the things I encouraged my client to do was to start sending weekly videos to her team. Just little updates, something that would have typically been an email. To actually send it as a loom video. Side note, I love loom. It’s a really great tool that lets you send the videos really quickly and it’s a really great tool for communication with your team. But it’s great because she could start sending videos and they could start hearing her. They could get used to her voice and she could get used to her voice to practice, practice. Let it be imperfect. Unlock your voice. Give yourself that permission slip. So where could you be holding back? Because you haven’t quite polished it enough.

So write yourself that permission slip, my friend. Let yourself just take some steps forward in this. Let it be imperfect. Keep practicing, let them hear your voice.

One thing we forget sometimes is they actually want you to lead them. And we can often think oh, are they going to get mad? Or, if I hold them accountable or give them direction, or clearly outline expectations, all of that, no, they want clear as kind Bernie brown says that clear is kind so communicate. Clearly. And trust yourself. Take that first step.

Leadership lesson number four is doing it all yourself. Being the chief everything officer can happen many times. This is Regression, happens in this role all the time as the leader, as a CEO I see this happen and we can build the team. We can have all the right things in place. And then one day, this crazy thought comes into your mind when you’ve got some things to do. And you say to yourself, you know what, I can just do this really quickly so I’m going to do it. You know what, I am faster at it, so I’m just going to do it. Ah, you know what, it’s only going to take a few minutes, I’m just gonna do it. They can’t do it as good as me, I’m going to do it.

This is like CEO regression slash the boomerang delegation. And what happens is that sure, all those things might be true, you might be faster. You might be the best at it. And it might only take you a couple minutes. But if you continue to have that mentality, you will continue to be the one who does it. Let that land, my friend. I know it feels counter intuitive to stop in the middle of your day in the middle of all the things and say, how could I delegate this? Or how could I communicate this to someone else or pass this off to someone else. But if you do not embrace that mindset, then you may continue to keep your business stock or be the bottleneck. And we have to really say, like, where am I not playing in my most important role as the CEO? What are the things that only I can do? And what else is taking up my time, my energy and my capacity that I get to lead and empower and coach and mentor someone else on. So that I can actually move the needle in my business. So being the chief everything officer is absolutely not doing anyone, any favors in your business. And doing all the things is going to really keep you feeling stuck and frustrated.

So what is your most important role as the CEO getting really clear on what are those top three things that only you can do in the business. For typical CEOs or typical leaders it is people, culture, and numbers. If you want to dive more deeply into this, I’ve got a free training that I will link in the show notes for you all about understanding your most important priorities. But in this season, what is that? If you could only do three things every day, what are those three things for you? And so that example, I just gave you people, culture, number, that’s one. Some of you have might have more of a front facing role in your company, you might be the service provider. You might be the relationship builder. You might be the salesperson, right? What are the three things in your company that only you can do? And how can we really protect your time and energy and build a culture and build a team around strengths that allow you to play in those strengths.

So what does that look like for you? And where could you possibly be doing too much or potentially doing other people’s job or disempowering your culture or taking things back or micromanaging, anything like that. Just in the sense of trying to get things done quickly. So we want to really look at that. That chief everything officer badge is a badge of honor that it’s time. It’s time to really let that go. And what is a beautiful thing is when we really understand, and we really open ourselves up to understanding that the chief everything officer role is it’s time to retire. It’s time to let go.

When we do that, we get to embrace, our true identity as a leader. And that is, we’re not so much in the doing it all, but we’re in leading and helping our team be successful.

The saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there. And this always rings very true in every next level of business growth. And while you can absolutely build your business alone. You can you may have gotten this far by kickstart in your business or having a few different people in different roles and supporting you. I’m not sure where you are on your leadership path. Maybe you’ve got a company of one. Maybe you’ve got a big team. But scaling alone for the longterm and having the right people in the right seats is so key. And it is to really close that freedom loop in your business as well. We have to lean on team.

So asking ourselves these questions, like where is my time and energy going? And where is the most needle moving part of my business that only I can do. And then focusing on how do I get there? How do I get there? So stop being the chief everything officer. Okay? Permission slip, granted.

The last one that I want to talk about in this particular series about leadership lessons is neglecting yourself and neglecting self care. It’s pretty easy to bump yourself down to the bottom of your to-do list. And in the world of business, when there is an endless amount of things to do at all, all points of the day, there’s always more to do. There’s more to build. There’s more to catch up on. There’s so much. There’s so many reasons. Why you could put yourself down on the bottom of the to-do list or make yourself a lower priority. But I want to remind you that your business is only as healthy as you are. Your business is only as healthy as you are. I’ve said it before. I will keep saying it. I’ll keep preaching this. Your personal wellness impacts your leadership effectiveness. Your personal wellness impacts your leadership effectiveness. I want you to think about two different types of leaders. The one who pops up out of bed in the morning after not really having a great sleep. They go right to their phone. They check their email, they head downstairs, they make a coffee, they open up their laptop and they are just reacting to the day. That leader gets dressed, gets in the car, goes to the office is a little bit frustrated, is a little bit irritable. And then someone comes in late and they’re snappy about it. The client deliverables aren’t going well. They look for someone to blame. There’s a lot of things that can happen as a ripple effect from being on edge and being depleted.

Running your business from a place of depletion is having a massive impact on your culture and your results. So let’s not do that. Okay? So there’s leader example, number one, the burnt-out leader that is just like getting up and going. And I understand that there’s some seasons that might be a requirement. But ideally where we want to be is in this place where we’ve created space for ourselves to think. We are putting ourselves in our calendars. We are prioritizing our wellness, the leader that wakes up in the morning and with an alarm clock and goes downstairs and takes a minute to write in their journal or goes for a walk or does a few movements to get into their body and then intentionally sits down with that coffee and says, how do I want to show up today? How do I want to lead today? That is a really great example of how you can start your day from a really grounded resource to place and how that is going to help you lead and respond in a really powerful way, not a reactive way.

Neglecting your self care is definitely a big mistake and something that you can really choose to get ahead of and choose to prioritize and choose to make this a part of who you are as a leader and the culture that you’re building as well.

When I talk about self care, I’m not necessarily speaking about Spa days, that type of self care. I feel like it’s not massages. It’s not spa days. Those are all wonderful things. Those aren’t the answer though. Sometimes it’s in our work. It’s your therapy. It’s your coaching. It’s your meditation. It’s breath work. It’s a walk in the woods. It’s journaling. It’s asking yourself tough questions. Those kinds of things that is self care, that is deep care for yourself. And sometimes we can be looking and reaching outside of ourselves for things like, going to get the pedicure or going to get the hair done, all those things, but then we still don’t feel great on the other side of it. And we wonder oh why was that? When I speak about self care, I’m talking about resourcing yourself from within. That is self-care. What is your relationship with yourself look? Are you running on empty or are you filling your well and filling yourself up first?

Put your self first, my friend, it’s so important. Your business is only as healthy as you are. So how we are showing up for ourselves is it’s really going to be modeled in our business and in our leadership as well. And one of the most important KPIs that I invite the leaders in my community, in my mastermind groups to take a look at every month is their wellbeing score. And I have a whole process for that, but it’s a really great awareness tool on just how full is my cup right now? What is my personal wellbeing emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing, mental, physical, what are all these buckets? What do they look like? How full are they? And when we can really get a clear understanding of what that looks like, we also know okay, I know that I need to fill myself back up to.

Personal wellness. What could this look like to incorporate just a little bit more you time in your calendar. This could be as simple as not taking external meetings until 10 so you’ve had a little bit of time to focus on your most important priorities. Moving your needle, getting your wellness in. Maybe this could look like a lunch break. Maybe this could look like an integration day. What could it look like to prioritize yourself a little bit more? What could it look like to prioritize yourself a little bit more, your personal wellness is really going to help you unlock and expand your leadership effectiveness. And think about some of those things I talked about earlier, unlocking your voice, letting yourself be your authentic self, looking at your strengths, all of that. Like when we have time to think about these things, instead of just moving from one thing to the next, we build so much more intentionally and intentional businesses, is asustainable business. We’re talking about the longevity. Of you. Of your culture. And that really starts with making sure you have time for you, To think. To breathe, my friend. You are allowed to breathe.

So to summarize those five points today, five leadership lessons I wish I knew sooner. Number one, be yourself. Do not fear. Authenticity. Being you is where your culture gets to be formed. And your culture is the bedrock of your business. Number two, play on strengths, hire slow. Making sure that you get to know someone and the strengths that they’re going to build inside your organization and ensuring that it’s going to compliment your existing team as well as make sure that you’re culture, not only of great ideas, but one of execution. The third, let it be imperfect, honoring the messy, letting yourself be vulnerable, letting yourself be seen, letting yourself be heard. And not letting perfection freeze you, shrink you, bite your tongue, and hold you back. And then handing in your chief everything officer badge, and prioritizing your personal wellness and your self care.

So that’s a little bit about my leadership lesson story for today. I want you to hang on for another minute, because I would love to share a little bit more about my upcoming Leadership Accelerator.

This is a four-part master course, and it’s all about helping you become more confident in your leadership. So if you’re someone that is stepping into more leadership. You want to step out of the, doing it all role, into leading. This is here to help. So this is a very simple, very accessible program. It’s something I run a couple of times a year and it’s something that I’ve run inside of my mastermind groups as a well, and it’s really based on a lot of the conversations that we had today. It’s helping you become more confident. Helping you to communicate with more conviction. What you get from this program is really about how to move the needle and how you lead. How to communicat and how to grow your team from the inside out.

So here’s a little bit about the rundown and what to expect for series starts and mid-November. It takes place over two weeks and there are four sessions and a little bit of conversation in between. There’s a private network. You get Q and A answered all the time. You also get support in building your own personal leadership manifesto. And the four topics sound like this. So one is vision driven leadership. How to align your team around a common purpose and guide strategic decisions for future success. Number two courageous communication, how to find your authentic leadership voice and confidently navigate challenging conversations. Number three, the essence of your culture. So this is about building your culture, crafting a vision for the core culture of your business and the brand experience that you want to create. And then number four is empowering accountability. So how to learn effective communication and create a culture of accountability and empowerment.

This is going to be a great series. It’s about unlocking your potential, building your dream team, reclaiming your time. And it’s going to really help you move from that, like hands on doing it all mode into confident self-assured leader mode. So actionable teachings, practical tools, mindset shifts. It’s all in there. This curriculum has been really successful in the past. We’ve seen amazing results for our clients and I want that for you too. So I’ve made this really accessible four sessions for 199, You can get all of the info in the link below. And this is a really great way to deep dive, to really focus on becoming the leader that you are meant to be. You get live training, you get coaching, you get leadership development in here, and whole bunch of tools that you can actually take from the session and implement it right away.

Everything is very actionable and very practical. If you want to find out more information, I would love to dive into that with you. You can head to the show notes and you can register and get a link directly to the program. There’s 12 seats available, and this is definitely an intimate group experience. So definitely run and make sure you grab one of those, if you are interested in it.

And you’ll also find an overview of the session dates and things. Things like that. This is something that you want to come live to, but recordings will be available for you as well. If you want to watch at your convenience. And in between sessions, there’s a group channel for accountability and Q and A, and that is all available for you too.

So if you are ready to elevate your leadership, I encourage you to check out all the links in the show notes for you to get started. And I just want to end today with another reminder that You are doing amazing work. And to put your hand up as a leader is one of the most important, impactful, and meaningful work that you can do. And none of it is easy. So I am honoring you and celebrating you. And I see you, my friends. I keep doing it. And I look forward to seeing you next time.

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