16 Leadership advices to give your younger self.

16 Leadership advice to give your younger self.

Hindsight is almost always perfect. What if you could learn from the hindsight of others to further your leadership? Here are 16 leadership advise to give your younger self that other leaders would have given themselves if they had a second run at life.

1 – Be comfortable with who you are.

1 – Be comfortable with who you are.

There is a lot of initial discomfort in leading others. You battle your own insecurities when you realise you do not know much about leading others. In short, you are out of your comfort zone. Being comfortable is what you must do.

Learning about leadership quickly is essential at this point, whether from mentors, personal experiences, etc. Whatever it takes to be comfortable in your leadership shoes, because when you are, it shows.  

2 – You can always ease up. It is very hard to get tough on yourself.

2 – You can always ease up. It is very hard to get tough on yourself.

Leadership is tough. You must manage people, manage their emotions, deal with mistakes and failure, receive and give negative (constructive) feedback. It can be easy to go hard on yourself; not that doing so would make things better. Accept that leadership has a lot of ups and downs. When the downs come, ease up on yourself and focus on going back up.

3 – Trust that you can do this.

3 – Trust that you can do this.

When you are thrown into the deep end, have no idea how to lead, you are not getting support from senior management, stressed out dealing with your team; it is hard to trust that you can do this (be a First-time leader). That is quite normal, and every leader goes through this stage.

You might come to believe that it is better to quit and go back to be a team member. However, know that others have seen the potential in you, and that is why you were given the opportunity. Trust that you can do this.

4 – Be confident. They will listen.

4 – Be confident. They will listen.

Many First Time Leaders hope that their team will listen to and work with them. The focus on ‘hope’ is strong because you are still figuring out how to lead. Confidence at this point is low. The thing is that your team feeds off your confidence.

If you are unsure of yourself, they will pick that up and it is harder to listen to what you have to say. So, you must be sure of what you are doing, and project confidence. Then they will more likely listen.

5 – Learn to give compliments, and thanks, freely and often.

5 – Learn to give compliments, and thanks, freely and often.

Some would say that saying please, thank you, and compliment others is weakness. I strongly disagree. Your willingness to be polite, compliment, appreciate, and be grateful shows a high degree of self-esteem in yourself, and confidence in your leadership.

Nobody wants to be taken for granted. When you do this your team members know that you do not take that for granted. They also know that they are part of your team.

6 – A little forethought is better than a lot of afterthought.

6 – A little forethought is better than a lot of afterthought.

Quite a few start their leadership believing that they must speak, take rapid action, and make lightning-fast decisions in split seconds. That cannot be further from the truth. For most of us, leadership is not involving life or death situations where they only have mere seconds to respond.

It is much better to think through on the possible consequences with some foresight, than look back with hindsight and realize you could have done things differently.

7 – Listen to your people to understand their underlying motivations.

7 – Listen to your people to understand their underlying motivations.

If you want to develop people, change the team culture, or just get along with your team, then you must understand their underlying motivations for coming into work. Many of us are motivated by our personal interests. When you understand your team members, then you can align their personal interest to that of the work. All you must do is to ask and listen.  

8 – Just because something does not seem relevant at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t be significant in the future.

8 – Just because something does not seem relevant at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t be significant in the future.

You will encounter different incidents daily that will test your leadership. When you are amid things, it is difficult to reflect on the lessons that you could have learned. Yet you should reflect as soon as possible because you never know when the lessons from one remote incident may be highly relevant to a future incident.  

9 – Make sure you are not the smartest person in the room, then listen.

9 – Make sure you are not the smartest person in the room, then listen.

If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are limited to your insights, opinions, and perspectives. You simply cannot come up with anything else better. That is why it is so important that you are leading a team who are experts in their own domain, so you can get multiple and different insights, opinions, and perspectives on any issue at any time to come up with the most appropriate solution to any challenge.

10 – I would also tell my younger self to find a mentor.

10 – I would also tell my younger self to find a mentor.

When we are on the leadership journey for the first time, we do not know to expect. We tend to overestimate what we can achieve. The reality has yet to hit us that there are plenty of mistakes to trip us up along the way.

A mentor can help to minimise the mistakes we make and get us to where we want to be sooner. They can also transfer their experiences to us to accelerate our own learning. Sounds like a good deal. Don’t you think?

11 – Be intentional and proactive. Do not wait, make change.

11 – Be intentional and proactive. Do not wait, make change.

One of the leaders that I interviewed share with me his personal leadership philosophy: “what you walk pass or ignore becomes accepted by everyone.” If you want to make change in your team, then you need to be intentional and proactive about it.

You need to let your team know that you are going to make a change, and to include them in that change. if you wait and do nothing, then your team will accept that the way things have been is how it will be.

12 – It is best to take aim before you fire.

12 – It is best to take aim before you fire.

Once you have exercised your leadership, all you can do is watch the consequences unfold. It is imperative that when you do, it is for the right reasons. That is why it is so important to ensure that you draw upon the expertise of your team, think through the consequences, and make the best decisions based on the information that you have for available. 

13 – Check your assumptions.

3 – Check your assumptions.

“Senior leaders don’t support me.” “My team members cannot be developed.” “My team is there to support my vision.” What is common between these statements is that these are assumptions.

There are many assumptions that leaders have about working with people, and sometimes these can lead us to say, act, or decide in particular ways, which may not lead to the best results. Hence the advice.

14 – You are not ready yet. Take another Lap…

14 – You are not ready yet. Take another Lap…

In my research, I have had many experienced leaders share this similar thought. When it comes to leadership opportunities, men are usually underprepared while women are usually over prepared.

I think when many of us think that we are ready for that leadership opportunity, we really do need to take a hard look at what is really required to lead. Often, we assume that leadership simply means telling others what to do, which is seldom the case.

15 – Don’t take criticism personally.

15 – Don’t take criticism personally.

When you are a leader, everyone is watching and judging you. Constructive and not-so-constructive criticisms will come your way. Remember is these criticisms are usually levelled at your leadership, not you as a person. When these criticisms come, it is important to remind yourself of why you lead the way you lead.

16 – Work harder on yourself to serve others.

16 – Work harder on yourself to serve others.

Leadership is about bringing others to success, and it rests on your leadership ability. You need to put time and invest (Link to blog: The best investments you can make in yourself) in your own leadership. The level of success that you can bring others to will be dependent on your level of leadership. The harder you work on your leadership, better you are at being able to lead others.

Wrap up…

That is it. 16 leadership advice to give your younger self, drawn from experienced leaders from around the world. As a first-time leader, you now have the opportunities to avoid the mistakes that others have made and get to your next step in your journey sooner.  

Daniel Lee
December 2, 2021 | 710 views
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