Learning to Lead

Hello my lovers of caffeine!

Mom and I had a fabulous time in Waco, TX visiting the silos! Everything was so pretty and there were LOTS of places for fun blog Photos!! This was taken at the bakery and those sweet treats were worth every single calorie.

Today I’m coming at you live from work in one of my favorite spots! Don’t worry, I’m on lunch. I do not get paid to ramble about my feelings, not yet anyways. 🙂

cc

I am on coffee cup number THREE and enjoying this lovely view of Fort Smith. This week I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a leader.

What comes to mind when you hear the word leadership? Is it a person? Your role at work? Yourself? Do you think leaders are only those who are above you?

In my 27 years of living I have been blessed with amazing leaders and blessed with leaders who have taught me how not to lead. In my early 20’s I worked at restaurants and, if you have ever experienced being “in the weeds” I know you can relate completely. The leadership I experienced during those 6 years was, well, not the best.

As people, I loved them (My managers). As leaders, they fell short. If you’d asked me 6 years ago what leadership meant to me I wouldn’t know what to say? I was not educated in the field nor had I ever been in a leadership position myself. Don’t get me wrong, I had many influential persons in my life. But at the time I only considered leadership someone who was in a management position.

As some of you may know I am now in a leadership degree and have acquired a wealth of knowledge on the subject. And yet at times I still doubt myself and my leadership abilities. This week I have realized being a leader is more than your position at work. More than the title of your degree. Being a leader is your willingness to place others before yourself, willingness to risk everything you know for the greater good. The ability to be positive even when it all goes to crap.

And it will all, at some point, go to crap..

This semester in particular I feel as if we have truly started to dive into leadership at its core. I have been reading books from some of the world’s top leaders and learning the psychology behind what goes into being a good leader. And yet, sometimes I look around at humans who have had some of the same education and wonder…DID YOU EVEN READ THE MATERIAL? I read discuss posts from my fellow class mates and think, did they read the book or just copy down sentences from various pages? Meanwhile, I’m over here, fingers on fire…BEGGING someone to question my opinions on the topic.

There is no shame in the sentence game…I’m guilty. But when it comes to material that is the core of the degree you are working so hard at and paying for, wouldn’t you want to know and embrace its value?

In one class in particular we have been tasked with reading three book and writing reports on them. This is the only assignments of the class and even though reading three books in a 16 weeks course is sometimes stressful, I have enjoyed this class immensely. We can all agree it’s nice when we realize the money we are spending to acquire knowledge is worth it.

I do not consider myself an expert on leadership, at least not yet. But what I do have is experience with leaders good and bad and the motivation to become a great one. During my research, there have been THREE traits I have noticed leaders of high positions seem to always have.

  1. Leaders Take Risks.                                                                                                                   In Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, She wrote about the time she was offered a position at Google as a talent manager. (Keep in mind this was before Google was a thing. Before everyone used Google as a verb, “I googled it.” We’ve all done it.) Sheryl was unsure if this was the right career move. She had been offered positions as a CEO for other company’s and Googles offer was not that. She went in to have a meeting with the man who was offering her the job and he said something to her that has never left my mind. “When you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You get on.” Sheryl took that Job, eventually became CEO of Google and is now CEO of Facebook. Sheryl took a chance on something even though at the time it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Leaders take risks.
  2. Leaders Allow Themselves To Be Lead.                                                                                As I had mentioned before when I was in my early 20’s I worked in restaurants. Most of the leadership I experienced during these times were not ideal. Corruption, lies, manipulation were all traits I expected leaders to have. I knew no different. In Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last, one of the chapters is titled, Employees are People Too. The chapter discusses how those in leadership positions have a responsibility to their employees, a responsibility to treat them with respect. This chapter reminded me of a time I was a bartender for a TGI Fridays. The owner was wanting to make some changes to the bar and because of that we had extra work placed on us. One morning while I was opening the bar he had come to me and ask why XYZ wasn’t completed. Frustrated I told him because it simply wasn’t possible with the amount of time we were given. I do not remember what I said exactly but I can tell you it was not in the most respectful tone. He looked at me and said “You’re right”. I was floored. I just let him have it and he agreed. In this moment he allowed himself to be led by an employee. In that moment by not getting frustrated with me and listening to what I had to say and agreeing, he taught me a valuable lesson. He taught me how to explain my frustrations without being frustrated. He taught me that good leaders will listen. Although my time in the serving industry was not always pleasant I will always remember this moment. He may not have been my favorite leader, but he still in that moment taught me how to lead. Great leaders WILL allow themselves to be lead.
  3. Leaders Fight for You.                                                                                                                There was a time in my life I was faced with insecure leaders. I was placed in a position where I felt powerless and less than. In my studies I learn of leaders who tear down others so they won’t be passed over. Leaders with insecurities they project on their employees.  It’s a hard position to be in. And even harder when you don’t dislike the person who projecting these feelings on you. I have often told myself NO. Becoming educated in this field has only confirmed my belief. I was not the problem. But I do intend on being the solution. Ladies, DO NOT allow someone to make you feel like you are less than your worth. Let me be clear, take criticism. That is how you grow. You will know the difference between someone who wants to help grow you vs someone one who want to squish you. I was being squished. I don’t dislike the leaders who placed me in these positions. I learned many things from them and even in some way, respected them. But the number one take away I had was, I do not EVER want to make someone feel the way I have. I will work 100x harder to never allow another human to feel anything less than motivation in my presence. I now have a job with leaders who are constantly growing me. Constantly telling me they will fight for me (Those exact words). Telling me they are growing me for something bigger. To them, this is just their job. To me it’s a game changer and a blessing I never knew I needed. If you are in a position with a leader who is not fighting for you, become the leader who will fight for others. 

“Leadership is a sacrifice. Leadership is a choice it is not a right.” -Simon Sinek.

I firmly agree with this and I feel like any good leader would back me up. What I’ve started to realize is that we all have the potential to be a leader. It doesn’t stop at work and at work it does not begin with a manager/supervisor position.

If you have been with a company for years and sit next to someone who has only been there for a few months, YOU have the potential to be a leader. If you are a member of an organization that has new members join every year, YOU have the potential to be a leader. If you are a parent, YOU are a leader. If you are a well-known member of the community, YOU are a leader. 

I have met so many people in my life who have the potential to be amazing leaders. But they know the burden and decide it’s not for them. This used to confuse me. Especially with my dad. He was an amazing leader, but never liked to lead. Well, whether he liked it or not, he was a leader. At his retirement party his former chief said “if everyone was a Mike, we would not need supervisors”. At his funeral his Sargent said, “I may have been his Sargent, but he was my leader.” What a legacy he led. He gave me clear amazing foot steps to follow.

I know I have much more to learn when it comes to leadership. I feel so blessed to be where I am today. I feel like God has always been preparing me to be a leader. Helping others has always been close to my heart. I take no experience good or bad for granted. I thank him daily for the opportunities to learn and grow.

I hope that everyone reading this thought of ways they can become a better leader. I promise there are areas in your life where others need your leadership. There are humans of all ages who need to be held to a higher standard and shown what true leadership can do for their lives.

So, here’s to everyone who’s growing better humans. Here’s to the hustlers teaching us to do the same! Here’s to the mistakes others make, teaching us a lesson. Here’s to the mistakes WE make, and deciding to use them to grow.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend and finds a way to lead! I know I will be volunteering at a Junior League event this weekend learning how to lead from some amazing women in our community!!

Until next time my caffeine Queens!

XOXO

 

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