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20 Valuable Leadership Life Lessons Dedicated To Growth

The beginning of the year and indeed this decade is a great time for past & future reflection.


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Wasim Mushtaq

3 years ago | 5 min read

Finding good leaders is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations, evolving views on team effectiveness, high performance teams, agile methodologies, and client experience to name a few have changed the perception of what a ‘good leader’ should be and more importantly do. The evolving demographics, positive push for diversity & inclusion, and healthier work life balance has changed how organisations function.

It’s clear the challenges leaders face now are more complex than before, any mistake or bad decision can be quickly shared via social media, the spotlight is here and now. The days of autocratic leaders is mostly coming to an end, with it a new wave of gen z and xennial leaders that are more socially active and aware.

I wanted to write an article about leadership for a while as I’m fascinated with what makes a good leader. This interest inspired me to take an executive course on the topic, so I could further explore and learn from thought leaders.

The beginning of the year and indeed this decade is a great time for past reflection and future projection, whatever you decide to accomplish having strong leadership capabilities will help you navigate your terrain and succeed. In honour of year 2020, here are 20 learnings that I’ve experienced over the last 20 years that can help you…

Disclaimer — I’m still very much on my own leadership journey and learning through new experiences, you may have a different opinion and that’s great. I’m interested to share best practice and learn new ideas so please do get in touch.

1. Lead by example, genuinely show them the way. Any action should come from a place of humility, honesty and integrity. The simple basics shouldn’t be undervalued, be caring as I’m sure you greatly appreciated the patience and forgiveness shown to you by others.

2. You don’t know it all, ask questions and keep learning. Find someone more experienced, possibly a mentor who’s done it before. No situation is usually ever the same. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or help.

3. You’re going to be wrong on many things, it’s OK but learn from mistakes and change your perceptions. Don’t just stick to what you’re good at, the ‘comfort zone’ will only achieve two things; a boring and unfulfilled life for you and others.

4. Don’t just hire people like yourself, be diverse and focus on what they can do now and in the future. You should visualise the numerous positive impacts they will create.

5. You’re not the best leader in the team, you’re probably just the most experienced. Learn to share responsibilities and delegate when it makes sense. Leadership isn’t a title, it’s a privilege but also a mindset. So, cultivate a team of thought-provoking leaders.

6. If you’ve hired well, the team is smarter than you on multiple topics so invest time to see development. Yes, they might leave you for other opportunities in due course and that’s part of the cycle but give them a strong reason to stay until then.

7. You must value the time of your team, don’t be late for internal meetings. There needs to be one set of ground rules for everyone, and don’t take them for granted. Establish professionalism from the outset.

8. Certain team members will make the same mistake more than once, it doesn’t make them a fool. At times don’t pick the best person for a task. You need to give all team members opportunities to learn, and make mistakes to grow.

9. Most likely a team member will know the best course of action to resolve an issue. Speak to them, open up, discuss the problem, work collectively to own the actions and solutions. Empowering them is usually a good option.

10. The fact that you have a strong team (congratulations!) and can navigate most situations isn’t an excuse for poor planning. Establishing good behaviours and habits is a sign of effective leadership.

11. Share your knowledge and experiences, guide your team. Challenge them and see what their limits are. Work with them to overcome it, so be disruptive and instil in them a challenger and competitive mindset.

12. The struggle is real, you’ll have good days and bad days. Occasionally it’s best for your team to see it so they understand the pressure. Sometimes it’s best to be a ‘swan’ and continue gracefully along on the outside but keep paddling hard underwater to get through it. Follow your gut on most occasions, it’s a great barometer.

13. Don’t just repackage something old as new, it’s called being lazy. If you do have a recurring problem then OK, you’ve got a potential solution but is there a better answer this time around? Never take the credit for someone else’s work, be transparent of everyone’s input.

14. Don’t work too long, you need to be productive so you have a life outside of work. Actions, resources and time must be prioritised. You’re not rewarded for time you put in, you’re rewarded for what gets created, adds value, and is delivered in the time you allocate.

15. Focus on Kipling’s six honest serving men to ensure you’re thinking clearly: what, why, when, how, where and who. However, ‘why’ is the best starting point and reason for any action so make sure it’s powerful.

16. Learn to be ambidextrous, develop your multitasking and delegating abilities whilst always having a helicopter view on what’s going on. You’re still accountable even though you’ve passed on some responsibility to others.

17. Say thank you, recognise the efforts and hard work your team puts into achieving objectives. The feeling of being unnoticed isn’t pleasant and can cause resentment, we’re all human, so deserve to be heard, feel valued and be appreciated.

18. Mentoring others is critical to your development, the time you allocate isn’t always reciprocated; but the lessons you learn and insights you gain by answering inquisitive questions from others usually enlightens your own thought process. As you often hear yourself giving guidance and realise you should be doing more of that also.

19. Your job is to complete your job and then move on. When your team doesn’t need you anymore then mission accomplished. I know it can be gloomy but don’t stick around when you’re not needed, as you’re not doing anyone any favours. Have an exit plan, your next challenge awaits…

20. Last item is don’t be anyone apart from yourself, trust the leader that asked you to perform the role originally. It needs the very best effort from you and you’re good enough!

This article was originally published by Wasim Mushtaq on medium.

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Wasim Mushtaq

Assertive Advocate | Positive Change | Entrepreneurship | Problem Solver | Creative Thinker | Fintech | Innovation | Mentor | Family | Opinions are my own…


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