Hidden Lessons in Leadership #13

A recent interview with Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and C.E.O. of Care.com, highlighted the importance that self-leadership and productive relationships are to effective leadership.

In speaking to what she learned about self-leadership Sheila said, “its about how you talk to yourself. And it’s getting to know yourself.”  What Sheila learned to do—with the guidance of a coach—was to be reflective and to critically think about what she was doing so that she could improve the leadership experience she provides by increasing her self-awareness around her management style.

Thinking critically isn’t about self-criticism, rather it is about challenging your thoughts and assumptions; it’s about going up stream to the thinking that underlies your thoughts and actions.  And this requires courage.  Only then can you begin to improve your leadership; only then can you develop and improve your ability to influence through your personhood.

Authentic leadership does not first rely on what one has—position, authority or even subject-matter expertise—but on ones’ very being.  The way you choose to-be-in-the-world speaks volumes about you to others.  Your worthiness to potential followers is communicated by your way-of-being.

Sheila acknowledges that leadership is about developing productive relationships.  In her words, “it’s how you help others grow as leaders so that they don’t need you. “ An effective leader collaborates with others to: a) help them develop; and b) help them help the organization develop. These are not mutually exclusive objectives and are quite interdependent.  As more people develop their potential the organization correspondingly enhances its capabilities.  Moreover, as the number of productive relationships in the organization increases then the emergence of synergies and creative ideas becomes more likely.  As Sheila asserts, “the important thing is inspiring people to do it their way, and with their own creativity, and for them to pursue that.”

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