What Makes a Good Leader?

Anyone know?

I know I don’t but I’m slowly learning. Slowly.

In January of this year, I was placed in a position of leadership. My job was to grow our Canadian presence, hire team members, train team members, and maintain my own sales role. Not a small order. But of course, having been a “challenge accepter” my whole life, I eagerly said yes. I love growing, I love learning and managing/being a leader in this capacity was not something I had done before. Challenge accepted! How hard could it be?

Of course, after a few months-the reality set in. Being a manager and trying to maintain your own job is the hardest challenge I have ever accepted. Luckily, I hired amazing people and have an incredible team. But wanting to see them succeed so badly was at the cost of my own role. My own performance suffered because I was stepping aside in order to spend time with them and see them grow. In the past 10 months I have grown more as a person than I have in a long time.

Some of the things I have learned about what make a good leader include:

  • Patience – One always starts the day with a solid plan of attack. But things will always come up. Always. People will get on your nerves, things will go awry and you will have an instant reaction. But in a position of leadership, that doesn’t work. It can’t. Your reactions have implications amongst your team and your business. So you need to step back, breathe and pause before responding
  • Communication – The people you work with are different from you. They listen differently, interpret differently and communicate differently. It’s not their job to switch their style for you, it’s your job to switch your style to match theirs and ultimately help them succeed
  • Time Management – Helping your team succeed cannot come at the cost of your own role. Looking back, I did not set clear enough boundaries and push my team to help themselves earlier on in their growth process. As such, I became a much more integral part of their day to day then I should have been

Because of my immersion in Leadership this year, I said yes when Capital One Canada asked me to attend Enactus. Capital One Canada has supported Enactus Canada for a number of years by facilitating the Capital One Financial Education Challenge. With the Enactus World Cup taking place in Toronto this year, Capital One stepped up to support the leaders of tomorrow as well. There, I took their quiz and spent time with the leaders of tomorrow. These students are going to be our next CEO’s. They are going to change the world, but will they be good leaders? Will people want to follow them?

At first glance they are amazingly socially conscious, smart and driven. But are they able to adapt their communication style to their peers/direct report? Will they be able to be patient when things don’t always turn out as planned? Will they have wherewithal to persevere and support their team when they have external challenges vying for their time?

Only time will tell….

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