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On Leadership

As a woman of color - sorry if this offends - it was tough to earn the right to be thought of as a leader. There was this expectation of attitude and street smarts and tough-as-nails Big Mama, and if you didn't meet that stereotype you obviously weren't a leader. So I had to STUDY and study leadership. I learned to be more technically proficient as a leader by becoming a master of backwards planning. I learned to be more prevalent as a leader by studying the art of professional presentation - people knew I had to be in charge because I was ALWAYS the sharpest one in the room, no matter what it took to maintain that. I leaned to be more perceptive as a leader by taking the time to ASK BETTER QUESTIONS.

 

I was never the loudest nor the most inventive leader, but I WAS the most intimate. I could turn a 25% soldier who couldn't so much as show up for work on time into an award-winning all-star time after time. Why? Because I LISTENED and I inspired. I learned stories that were related to the struggles of each individual and I told them in the context of their duties. I did WITH them what I asked OF them. If they were working hard, I would be right there in the dirt with them. If they failed an inspection, I would be right there making things right with them, on a Saturday at 4AM if need be.

 

Here is my advice to you and anyone else who wants to become the best leader they can be: Visualize the best leaders you know. Find three key traits that resonate with your soul and your personality. Study THOSE attributes, not leadership in general. Maybe you are the best empathizer or the best motivator. Whatever you truly are, devote yourself to becoming MORE of it. Then keep track of the lives you change. The success you win for OTHERS this year will be the best text you'll ever read on what it takes to be a leader.

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