I have been thinking about leadership quite a bit this week, probably because I am in the middle of the woods with 6 dogs and a shitty wifi connection. I’ve been reading a lot on Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), so I am going to use her as my inspiration.
People, myself included, get leadership and management confused. Leadership is how you approach and deal with different situations, it doesn’t have to mean you oversee people. For example, you notice that the garbage is full and you bring it out. You don’t stop and announce to everyone what you are doing, you just do it. Leaders don’t seek praise, if anything it makes them uncomfortable.
When RBG was asked to apply for a board position with the ACLU, candidates were expected to discuss their career highlights, major accomplishments and tout how great they would be in the position. RBG was so self-effacing and kept giving everyone else the credit (for some of the landmark cases she won), that the board elected her on good-faith, due to her past performance with the ACLU. Her peers and ACLU staff members, were ultimately responsible for her getting elected.
There is no perfect leader, but if you want to be one, I recommend keeping the below in mind at all times. A very smart person, once said to pick 3 and make those the lens in which you assess all situations.
- Caring. This should speak for itself, if not, let me say this: don’t be a dick. You can have a very direct communication style and still really see the other person.
- Patient (I didn’t say a master of it). I suck at this, I have a tendency to outline my requests in a way that seems perfectly clear to me and is incredibly confusing to everyone else. This often leads to annoyance on my part and frustration on the other end. Which leads me to my 3rd point.
- Self-aware. Know your weaknesses, strengths and everything in between. This allows you to elevate others while staying focused on what you are good at.
- Lead by example. The saying “do what I say, not what I do,” is utter bullshit. Be the first to lend a hand, step in when someone is struggling, take the time to show and teach and be kind. Do the right thing, regardless of who is watching.
- Mentor. I encourage team 834 to work with our interns or first-year associates to help them become accustomed to our culture, processes and brand. By setting up others for success, you yourself succeed in gaining valuable experience in leadership.
- Self-effacing. Don’t claim attention for yourself, share the love. RBG did this and she is a Supreme Court justice. Being a narcissist never turns out well, as history will soon show.
There is so much more to leadership, but these are the six things I try so hard to incorporate into my daily life. A leader isn’t a manager, a leader is who others strive to be.
How do you want to be remembered?
“Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a true leader