By: Emerson R. Moses, MBA, CPRP-DEI
With my AAPPR Board Presidency term recently ending, along with receiving a promotion into a larger leadership role at work, the concept of good leadership has been on my mind. We are all leaders in what we do to some extent – whether it’s leading cross functional teams or leading our book of work. We have a direct impact on the revenue and success of our organizations. And we seek a seat at the table to influence executives and business leaders because we are the experts in our space. In my first official manager role, I had no idea what I was doing and learned through some tough feedback that there is always opportunity for growth. Managers drive employees, while employees follow leaders. Creating a following can start at any role level.
Here are some key lessons that I’ve learned along the way…
1. A leader is only as good as the people they surround themselves with: I heard a leader say this once and it stuck. I now use it all the time with my teams. Don’t surround yourself with just “yes people.” Make a point to build a team or network of people who challenge you to think differently. Who bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. Who seek to understand, not just do. And empower your teams to be the leaders and owners of their work. A leader’s success is not theirs alone. It belongs to their team, and it is the leader’s job to empower and lift their team to do their best work.
2. Don’t be afraid to fail: The greatest opportunity we have to grow is in our most challenging moments. Be open to feedback. It’s OK to fail, but fail fast and then fix it. Nothing is ever perfect from the start, but it is in failure that we often learn how to thrive.
3. Cast a big shadow: Be purposeful in your interactions and think about how they impact others. Hold yourself to the same standards that you do others and model the behavior that you want to see in others. Good leaders are human – they are accessible and relatable, and they care about interactions at every level.
4. Leadership can be the loneliest place:As leaders we are responsible for making decisions that can have far-reaching consequences. At times, the toughest decisions we make are the ones that others cannot. We must learn how to separate the personal and emotional side of ourselves from our decision-making. Never is this truer than when you are in a position to make decisions that you know will impact the people you care about on your team.
5. When you put people first, they’ll give you their best: This is where authenticity – and even a little emotion – lives. Leading by fear only creates a team that underperforms. Have genuine concern for the well-being and development of your people – strive for meaningful relationships as you work towards a common goal. This is where you find human connection and aligned beliefs and behaviors.
In our often-unforgiving world of navigating executives and business partners while trying to meet hiring needs in a talent segment that’s facing extreme shortages – we lead strategy, we lead relationships, we lead impact. Leadership isn’t a time or point in your career. You don’t have to be in the executive suite to model leadership behavior or influence change. It’s not a title or a team that makes others value your input. It’s the mutual respect and credibility that you develop through your relationships and the demonstrated value that you bring to the table that makes you a strong leader.