Leadership is something we encounter every day. Having started my career in a young South African startup, I was assigned the responsibility of being a leader at a young age. The challenge was always having a team who was around my age and even my experience level.
It takes a lot to set that element of authority, respect and stance in such situations. But more so, the hardest bit was that it can be a very lonely journey. You’re short of being that person who’s always complaining and you have to search within yourself to find the light and optimism in every situation that presents itself. One of the tricks is learning to customize your leadership because every person is different, their motivations are different and their challenges too. I never got that right, but I think there is a learning in that too.
Whether you have the title of manager or not, I believe that every one of us needs to act as a leader in every way and in our different capacities. There are some certain qualities which I feel matter whether you are new in your career or established in your career. And these qualities go along way no matter what level you are.
One of the greatest learnings as a freelancer looking for work, is the learning around showing up. It is amazing how in certain situations ‘clients’ tend to treat you like every other sales person or an outside party. I think it is in this situation where you really see someone’s true colors, because now the role has changed in a way from ‘you need me’ to ‘I need you.’ Being a leader in your role means being able to show up; showing up with empathy, professionalism and even just going out of your way to explain, provide feedback and just build or maintain a relationship. Whatever your responsibility, own it, because at the end of the day, you signed up for that role through the good and the bad.
Being an everyday leader means thinking of solutions with every opportunity. Challenges and obstacles appear in all situations and all endeavors. But being able to think of, “how can I make it better?” or “how can I make it easier?” can go a long way in getting ahead of the challenge. What is even harder is rejection is everywhere around us. Being able to build a barrier and not taking every ‘NO’ personally takes a lot of courage. More so, being a leader means that even when one door closes you will continue to strive, be persistent, be proactive and be resilient, because at the end of the day you owe it to yourself.
Permission vs Forgiveness
This is one of the core elements in any working relationship. It helps know whether a situation can be overcome or a decision can be made with permission or forgiveness in mind. When it comes to proactivity there is always a consequence, but knowing which one you are willing to deal with helps. There is always a fine line too and offense can be taken in many ways. I believe being an everyday leader means knowing when to ask for permission and when to ask for forgiveness as it comes back down to taking responsibility for your actions.
Trust is everything
Being able to trust the people you work with is really the make or break. If you find yourself doubting someone you work with, it means that there are some areas of trust that need to be built. More so, from your side, there will always be instances where you are sick, unable to make a commitment or make a mistake, the reaction from the other party will be a self-check of how much trust you have developed. The stronger you are as a leader, chances are the more trust you have been able to build.
So as you aspire to be that next level leader, let’s start with yourself first. Ask yourself these pertinent questions: Are you showing up? Are you thinking of what can be done better? Are you thinking about the level of your relationships? Have you established trust with the people you work with?
Naazneen Parkar aka ‘Naaz’
From the Kawi Snippets Team,
Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there who are working tirelessly and being the bold drivers for change in their work places. If you can dare to dream it, then you can do it, so go for it from today! Let’s back each other up and help each other climb those ladders, because as per the IWD 2017 theme, “through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.”