5 Lessons in Leadership

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Being a leader is tough...These 5 Lessons can Help

Most people would agree that there are times where being a leader is tough.  The organization is counting on you to take care of the people and accomplish all of the day-to-day tasks associated with running your business.  It can be totally overwhelming for even the toughest among us.  

After 16 years of military leadership training and associated assignments, I have learned the following 5 lessons about leading an organization.


Make decisions - One of the most harmful things you can do in an organization as a leader is fail to make decisions in a timely manner.  As leaders, we always want to make informed decisions, but if we avoid making a decision in favor of gathering more information, we actually hurt our organizations.  

Indecision leads to a lack of clarity for your organization, and a general feeling of unease for your team.  As a leader, it is critical to get as much information as you can in a timely manner and then make the best decision you can based on what you know.  You can always course correct later, but it’s hard to regain the trust of your team once you’ve failed to act.

Build relationships - I don’t know any leaders who are successful without first creating strong bonds with those around them.  I had a boss who used to say, “it’s all about relationships.”  At first, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with his philosophy, but over time I’ve realized that we are only as successful as the team we build around us.  

Those relationships might be contacts for future endeavors or support networks you can leverage.  In today’s social economy, relationships matter.  

Ignore the critics! - I think this is probably one of the hardest leadership lessons to learn, especially as women.  If we are leaning forward and leading with confidence, we will always encounter people who criticize us or fail to agree with us.  

It’s good to listen to your team, but when you start worrying about what others think too much it’s easy to get bogged down.  It’s easy to start second guessing every decision, conversation and idea that you have and once you lose confidence in your ability to lead, so will your team.  In order to be successful, you have to filter out the voices that are just there to tear you down.  

Listen to your people - All of the most successful leaders I’ve ever worked with are willing to listen to the people around them.  There will be times as a leader that your people understand the problems and challenges better than you do.  It’s essential that you take their thoughts, opinions and advice seriously.  You don’t always have to follow the advice others give you, but you do need to allow your people to have a voice in your organization.  

I don't recommend leading by consensus, but you should listen to your team and make an effort to ask for their insight when making decisions that effect your business.  Listening will help you grow as a leader and will allow you to create a team that cares as much about your organization as you do.

Trust your intuition! - Most women are naturally intuitive.  When you have a “gut feeling” about someone or something, take it seriously.  If an idea someone presents you seems “off" or a business partnership doesn’t “feel right", be brave enough to walk away.  

Research has shown that our gut feelings are often based on subtle non-verbal cues and are actually an early warning system that is trying to remove us from dangerous or harmful situations.  If something feels wrong, walk away, or at the very least make sure you spend some extra time researching the opportunity.