I’m once again on the hunt for career opportunities. After almost two years, my long term contract with a magazine publisher for younger kids has come to an end. It’s part of the drawback of being a contractor – no notice, no severance. Just – “hey, yeah, um we aren’t going to renew your contract that ends like TODAY.” But with all experiences, I have learned so much about so many things, including what makes a good inspirational leader.
In all fairness, my boss tried her best to get them to renew. She has been wonderful and I’ve loved working with her and the small marketing team. I made some real, strong friendships. What I didn’t like was the lack of true leadership that permeated throughout the company. No one took ownership or set a clear vision for the company. I would be in meetings and when pressed to make a decision, everyone in the room shrugged, unable to make the final call. How can anyone make progress and move forward if no one is at the helm?
The phrase, “Let’s try this again, just so we can check it off the list as things we have tried that don’t work, so the bosses feel satisfied” was repeated time and time again.
Everyone at the company was kind and polite, but the company lacked any sort of internal culture. The company has not been doing well for years. The owners have way too much expendable income on their hands and keep funneling money into it for whatever reason – only known to them. And because they lacked funds, they were unable or unwilling to infuse innovation, inspiration and fun into their corporate culture.
What I realized towards the end of my contract was this: It’s not the kind of place I want to work. While it did meet a few of the things I am looking for, it was missing a key factor: Inspirational Leadership.
What makes an inspirational leader?
We all have different ideas of leadership, but I bet that there are some traits that almost everyone can agree on. In my never ending quest of improving my own experiences, here are 6 traits that I have found make a leader successful and inspirational:
- They have a VISION.
You may not completely agree with it, but you trust them enough to help them achieve it.
- They get to KNOW THEIR PEOPLE.
I’ve been managed by far too many that never take the time get to know who works for them. No wonder they end up not trusting them or empowering them. You don’t trust people you don’t know.
- They have PASSION.
The people that others want to follow are hungry for what they do. They go after things with gusto.
- They come to work with an OPEN-MIND.
Surrounding yourself with yes men is never a good idea. The leaders that succeed are open to other’s opinions and do not shoot down someone challenging their ideas.
- They keep LEARNING.
They understand how important it is to encourage learning for everyone, including themselves. We all have plenty to learn.
- They are PERSONABLE.
You can probably point out a few leaders who lack the ability to really connect with others, but for the most part – a true, successful leader is someone you like to be in the room with. They make you laugh, draw you in, challenge you to think. They have charisma.
- 10 Unique Perspectives On What Makes A Great Leader
- The Top 7 Leadership Qualities & Attributes Of Great Leaders
- The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World
As I look for the next career opportunity, this experience has taught me to much about the importance of good leadership and has made me that much smarter about what to look for and what to accept.
Keep Learning my Friends…and if you have any leads in the marketing/social media consulting realm – let me know!
Today I am choosing Happiness. I am willing to accept the outcome (like I have a choice or anything) and will be figuring out how I help. For me, it was important to take time yesterday to feel what I was feeling. I am seeking to learn about the perspective of those that voted for Trump. I want to understand – really I do. One of the most shocking things to me about the election was the realization that I didn’t even know how a huge number of people were feeling in this country. I like to think I am a caring, smart, well-read person, so for me not to even know the disillusionment and anger that a huge percentage of people are feeling — it rocks me to my core.
I didn’t spend my time yesterday insulting anyone. I spent my time thinking about what happened and seeking clarity on what exactly happened. If you don’t understand what caused this outcome, than you can’t do much to fix it.
I am finding it difficult to understand some Trump supporters reasoning’s though. When asked about how they reconcile Trump being ok with having the KKK support him, I’ve read that “it’s a Democrat conspiracy”, even when presented with a tweet from David Duke himself. It seems that some of his supporters are fine with simply ignoring some of the dirtier aspects of their candidate while magnifying those of HRC. I am truly trying to understand because I don’t.
However, I did read a really well thought out post yesterday from Alex Young that put some perspective around this whole thing for me and suggested a coherent game plan that we all need to get behind…
I am concerned about what Trump’s win says about us a country. We are really broken — and yes, we are America and will pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and fight against injustice. It’s in our blood. I trust in the great document that we live and die by created by our founding fathers. It has stood the test of time. But, this is a big shift in our country and a wake up call for each and every one of us. Yes, politicians come and go. Yes, I woke up today and have the same responsibilities to my family as I did Monday. But, none of us should forget we have a responsibility to our country and to each of its citizens. We can’t grow and prosper without taking care of one another. And that’s what I am going to focus on.
Woke up to the news — I’m sitting here speechless, in tears thinking about how scary the reality of what has been done. My kids have to grow up with a leader who has been honest about his lack of respect for women, minorities, anyone not in his camp.
He has no plan, doesn’t do his homework, is unkind and disrespectful and lacks any self control. He gets to help pick a SCOTUS. He has Omarosa as one of his advisors.
This is America? This is not the America I want – and I’m sitting here thinking about how I’m not sure what to do and how to change it.
Someone this morning on FB mentioned not understanding the tears, that life goes on. I thought about that — Why am I crying? Why am I feeling scared? Do I lack faith in my country or fellow man? Do I not believe in kindness above all?
My tears are coming from a place of sadness, fear and anger that our great country is this broken and that people are so divided. It’s not about woe is me. The problem arises when you keep crying, unable to see clearly and get stuck long after today. Having to tell my kids that this man, who has said and done some really terrible things publicly, will now represent us globally is unsettling. Appreciation of our lives, knowing that life does indeed go on and stopping to feel whatever one feels are all ok.
How can anyone forget the KKK publicly backed Trump. He did not publicly say No Thanks which any decent person would have done. I’m trying to make sense of what happened last night. I am still in disbelief. I am struggling to understand how this happened? I am grasping for clarity…
I’ve been putting off reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 UC Berkeley grads – knowing it would bring out the feels. I read it this morning to help fire up some inspiration – sure enough, it hit me just like I expected…
The entire speech is poignant, funny and meaningful, but here’s what resonated with me the most…
“when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.”
‘Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight…”
‘Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.’
Scotty’s cancer battle profoundly changed me. And, while I do at times find myself getting dragged under by the minutiae of life, I try my hardest to focus on being thankful and choosing joy. It’s about perspective – my life could be a lot worse as I found out. I choose to be thankful and look for the meaning and joy in every day. It sounds schmultzy, but it’s true. Life is way too short to hold onto anger, be resentful, let fear control you or hang out with toxic people.
Thank you goes out to Ms. Sandberg for sharing her very personal, intimate experience with the world. By sharing it, she is helping others find meaning in their challenges. I’m glad I finally read it – it was definitely worth it.
The past week, I had the wonderful fortune of being in the presence of two of the few people out there who were born to do what they are doing. You know those people who from a young age seem to be destined for their purpose. It’s as natural as breathing to them..
Last Tues, I took HB to go see the amazing Ed Sheeran at Verizon Center. It was just him on stage – with a looping machine. He recorded his own loops while playing and then played over them. He is a true artist. His voice was so crisp and pure. I thought he sounded better live than on his records. His solo show lasted over two hours – and there was not a moment where the sold out audience was not entertained, included and captured. He was born to write and sing songs – no question. To drive home that point, at the beginning of his show, he played videos on the big screen that captured the blooming of his talent throughout his young life, including when he was probably in kindergarten.
Yesterday, I was in awe and inspired as I sat with Diana Gabaldon, author of the best-selling series, Outlander at a small, invitation only lunch hosted by the non-profit, Fall for the Book. Ms. Gabaldon was in town to receive the Mason Award at George Mason in Fairfax. For those that don’t know, I love the book and TV series Outlander. To me, Outlander is an escape novel, where you get truly lost in the story and want to reread it over and over again because don’t want the the journey it takes you on to end.
What became clear to me within the first few minutes of our lunch was that Diana was born to write and create these fantastic stories that capture people’s heart. She has been writing since she was in grade school, doesn’t use notes to keep track of her characters, doesn’t create drafts and does all the research herself to ensure she accurately capture the time period of her novels. She began writing Outlander for herself –no intention of selling it. She didn’t tell anyone she was writing it and just let the characters take her where they needed to go. Writing is as natural as breathing to her. Listening to her explain how she writes and creates was fascinating.
What am I meant to do?
It appears to me that Ed Sheeran and Diana Gabaldon were born to do what they are doing — it may or may not have not been a clear, easy going journey to get where they are but there is no question in my mind that they were going to get there. Both have passion and talent that you can feel just being in the same room with them. Not to host a pity party, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what I was born to do. I suspect there are more people out there like me and I struggle each and every day with that question. I just know there are bigger things to come for me but how, where, why, who??
I have a lot of female coworkers, friends and acquaintances and I am a woman obviously. One topic keeps coming up time and time again that seems to resonate no matter where you live or what industry you work: Gender bias towards woman. I’m not talking about blatant, in your face kind of bias towards women which is bad enough. This type of unconscious gender bias seems to linger and many times, you don’t even realize it’s happening. Until I heard some of examples and I started to really think about certain experiences and situations, the thought never even occurred to me that it was a pervasive issue. It seems very normal, business as usual.
The other day I came across this piece written by Liz Dolan, Fox International Channels’ CMO and the only woman on the board of apparel and lifestyle brand Quiksilver’s board: Gender bias forced me to quit Quiksilver’s board. At face value, the reasons the board gave for not including her in overall discussions about the replacing of the company’s CEO seem odd but not blatantly biased. But let’s dig deeper: They told her that they had to be sure the CEO would not find out about what was happening and that they were concerned she was going to be “too conflicted” when backing the decision because of her past professional history with the CEO. What’s interesting to note is that many, if not all of them, had had previous ‘conflicts’ with the CEO as well and yet, they still felt they could handle making the hard decision.
Why was Dolan singled out?
“To me, it was a very clear case of unconscious bias. Because I had a previous professional relationship with the (now-former) CEO, the board assumed they knew how I would have voted based on a biased assumption that I’d vote to keep my “friend. ” Because that’s what girls do, right? They make emotional decisions about friends instead of strategic decisions based on business facts. Girls can’t keep a secret. Girls are too emotional. Girls can’t make tough calls.. And, thank goodness, girls won’t speak out when we marginalize them.”
Dolan is not alone. I have personally experienced unconscious gender bias during my work career. These are just a few personal examples, but I am sure that if you ask any woman out there, they have ample examples to share:
- Inappropriate comments about my personal appearance by members of leadership.
- Asked to order food for a group, when I was a senior member of the team but yet the rest of the group were men.
- Assigned note taking duties.
- Being asked to take care of buying gifts for weddings, showers, and other celebrations.
- Being left off of projects because they assumed I would not be able to put in extra hours due to family commitments.
What can be done?
There is no cure all to fix the issues that surround unconscious gender bias. I think it’s one of the reasons why so many women become disillusioned working for others and start their own businesses or leave the workforce all together. It’s hard to fight a deep routed, pervasive culture. According to Dolan, she “learned that even when a woman earns a seat at the table, the men can put you in a soundproof booth.”
Is it all dismal and unchangeable?
Learning to Recognize and See it, Acknowledge it and Talk about it can bring about change. It’s important to keep in mind that small changes can give way to larger ones if enough people get behind it. There are some good, influential people that are lending their voice too, which can only help. We call can start spreading the word and learning to identify when it happens….
- Google: You don’t know what you don’t know: How our unconscious minds undermine the workplace
- Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook: Lean In
- When Talking About Bias Backfires: Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg on Discrimination at Work
- THE GROWING BUSINESS OF DETECTING UNCONSCIOUS BIAS
- Unconscious bias is why we don’t have a diverse workplace, says Google