Things I learned about leadership

Success Problem

I sometimes get asked about lessons I have learned as a leader


These are the key principles that have guided me:


1. Be transparent and consistent about your core principles and values People want to know the yard sticks you will use to assess situations and assess their contribution and see that you hold yourself accountable to these measures in everything you do. 2. Be genuine We have all seen the impact in politics of leaders trying to be the person they believe others expect. People will accept flaws, but not a phony. Be authentic in your relationships. 3. Have a clear purpose Take the time to consider what you need the team to achieve and why this will make a positive difference, including for them. Make sure you clearly articulate this and celebrate the steps taken towards achieving the person. Note to some of our political leaders – keeping the seat warm is not a purpose! 4. Know yourself (and especially what you are not good at) Leverage people in the team with passion and skill in those areas. You don’t need to know everything and be good at everything to lead effectively. That sounds obvious but it took me a while to wake up to that. Make it easy for staff to give you honest feedback. Especially ask those who will be critical. Not always comfortable, but in the end vital. 5. Treat everyone fairly, but that doesn’t mean treating everyone the same. Your teams will have people with different styles, skills, situations and needs. Your job as leader is to understand that and then adapt your support and coaching to fit the individuals. As a new leader it is tempting to treat people in the way you like to be treated. That isn’t necessarily what they want! 6. Build effective and respectful teams Your job is help every team member to be the best they can be, but crucially to create a sum that is more than the parts. Remember this when recruiting. When people really value and leverage the diversity in the team, and especially feel commitment and care for their colleagues, great things can happen. 7. Avoid doing other people’s job for them You probably got the top job because you are really effective in the field you work in, and are passionate about it. Learning to let people figure out their own way to solve problems can be difficult. Women especially are acculturated to ‘do’ stuff not watch others do it, and can struggle with not ‘joining in’ aka interfering! 8. Be clear about what outcomes are needed and when As a woman, I learned oblique way of making requests (not to be demanding), often posing tasks as questions or invitations. Male subordinates will not necessarily understand instructions that are posed in that manner. 9. Be humble When you wake up in the morning and wonder whether you are up to the job, believe that it isn’t just you. Other leaders also doubt themselves. A dose of genuine humility however is a valuable leadership attribute. It leads to listening, which is both engaging and the route to better decision making. 10. Keep your sense of humour Work consumes most of your life and it should be fun!



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