What does it take to be a good leader?

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By Jessica Vargas, Project Architect (Portage, IN)

On December 4, Amanda Watson and I attended a “Women and Leadership” Workshop hosted by NWIIWA (Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association). The speaker was Liz Jazwiec, a nationally renowned speaker, strategist, and author who shares her passion for leadership, engagement, and service. 

Here are a few ideas from the speaker I thought were worth sharing.

  • Good leadership puts the TEAM before the INDIVIDUAL.
  • Good leadership drives negativity out of the workplace. Positive leadership shows others what the appropriate attitude is and others will follow. Those who lead with negativity are only showing their team that negativity is appropriate behavior.
  • Good leadership holds everyone accountable for morale. Morale is not solely leadership's responsibility, it falls on the individuals too.
  • Leadership has to be authentic to yourself. Everyone leads differently.
  • Good leadership invites the TEAM to collaborate on the “WHAT” of the opportunity/ solution/ vision. However, the “HOW” or implementation is (and should) be leadership's decision. Good leadership also delegates the implementation plan to the TEAM.
  • There can be multiple RIGHT answers to a problem. Just because your idea is not selected, does not make it a bad or wrong idea. If the Team and Leadership select an idea that is not yours, you need to commit to the selected course of action/solution to remain a productive member of the TEAM.
  • Implementation has to be measurable with hard data/ numbers/ facts.
  • When implementing change, it inevitably will get worse, before it gets better…Some call it the Valley of Despair, our speaker equated it to cleaning your closet. You’ve decided your closet is a mess and you need to clean it out and organize it. You go to Target and buy color coordinated bins and hangers. You come home, and begin removing all the items from your closet. You make piles – KEEP, DONATE, THROW AWAY. Once you get everything out of the closet, you rest for a minute – you realize how large a job this really is…you begin to doubt yourself that you will ever really finish…you notice your once clean bedroom is now a disaster…you can’t even see your bed…where will you sleep? Oh my god, look at all the dust bunnies on the floor…the shelves are filthy…this is where you keep your CLEAN clothes?!? You are now in the Valley of Despair. You are overwhelmed by the task and now you have to do even more than you originally thought. In life, often this is when most people “quit” or just push everything back in the closet and close the door. But if you realize all you have to do is grab your dust rag and vacuum and clean the closet, then you are back on track. Then you can put all your new totes and hangers in place, hang up your clothes, align your shoes, and stack your sweaters. Then you have a nice, clean, and organized closet and you are happy with yourself. Change is hard…and it’s usually more work than anticipated, but it’s worth the work.

Hope you found a nugget of something valuable here.