I was having a discussion with a friend the other day, trying to explain observations I had made about the people who I see thrive both at work and in their personal lives. He responded, “you are talking about leadership.”
While I focus on the concept of leadership often in both my writing and at work, it’s never occurred to me to think in terms of playing a leadership role in one’s own personal life. And yet, once I started contemplating it, I realized that personal leadership is all about taking accountability in all aspects of your life to ensure you are headed in the direction that connects best for you. And, yes, one could argue there is a strong correlation embodying strong personal leadership skills and being a successful leader in the workplace. Fairly intuitive, right? When you can take responsibility and lead through your own life decisions, you are likely to have a far greater impact leading and inspiring others.
If you believe yourself to be a strong leader in your work life, take a beat and check yourself against these personal leadership characteristics as well. Chances are, if you aren’t embodying them in life, you might need to adjust a little at work to maximize your leadership impact at work.
It’s hard to lead others at work effectively if your mindset outside of the office is always leaning towards the negative. Having a positive attitude and outlook about life and your approach to it is a critical component to building strong leadership that transcends your own life and affects the leading of others. In other words, we all hit obstacles in our lives along our journey, but the ability to dust ourselves off and keep moving forward requires grit, resilience and a glass-half-full outlook.
For the better part of the last year, we’ve been quarantined in our homes, and been witness to the world working through extraordinary challenges including mental well being, job loss, social injustice, and death of loved ones. In no way should we minimize those dynamics. And yet, if you reflect on the circle of people in your life, consider who’s thrived through this incredibly difficult time. Personally, my observations tell me that those “thrivers” are those who have taken a leadership role in their own lives by maximizing this unique shift in how we live our lives. They’ve become focused, set lofty goals, embraced new opportunities to learn, and are choosing to view this pandemic as an opportunity. This is not to suggest that they were heartless robots who didn’t acknowledge big challenges along with the rest of the world; but it does highlight that when people have a sense of purpose and a passion to manage their lives to achieve and find ways to always move forward, it will translate to what they bring to those they lead as well.
EMBRACE BEING NEVER DONE
At Rapid7, one of our core values is “never done.” It’s all about the need for embracing insatiable curiosity, and striving to always be learning, growing and developing. Whether it comes from books, podcasts, in-depth conversations, is irrelevant. The point is, find what works best to inspire and challenge you to always be upping your game. Broad perspectives and being open minded to new ways of approaching work and life will pay off in just about every area of your life. It will also serve to draw others to you, thus enhancing your ability to influence, inspire and lead.
NURTURE YOUR TRIBE
Even the most motivated among us need a strong support system. At home, that might include a partner, family and friends. Just like at work, this is the team of people that you can rely on to provide support, guidance and can challenge your perspective and approach to keep you on track. Whether you have a singular personal “consigliere” or a cadre of trusted members in your tribe, these are the people that will both keep it real, and serve as your inner circle. You know each other well, and there is a strong level of mutual trust. Again, having this strong network in your personal life translates to strong leadership at work as well. If you consider yourself a strong leader in your work life, you likely have people you turn to that advocate for you, challenge you, and just plain support you. Nurturing your tribe in your personal life serves the same purpose.
Developing your personal leadership isn’t just about setting yourself up to live your best life. It directly translates to your effectiveness as a leader in the workplace as well. It’s easy to rest on your laurels with a title, and claim yourself a leader. However, if you seek to continue to maximize your effectiveness as a leader in your work life, strive to be a strong leader in your personal life as well.