Pursue What Matters
Episode 42: You Are Meant to Lead
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What does it mean to be a leader? Is it a name on a door? Or a fancy title behind your name? Or is it something someone else bestows on you? Sometimes we have some pretty rigid beliefs about what it means to be a leader, and what it takes to lead. While Today, I’d like to help you challenge some of those beliefs. Because here’s what I believe you are meant to lead.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:27
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the pursue what matters Podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work? Do you see yourself as a leader, do others see you as a leader, maybe you have the title that fits with you being a leader, maybe you don’t? Well, my goal today is to help you see yourself as a leader, we each have the potential to lead whether you lead one person, say yourself, or whether you lead 1000 people you are meant to lead, and I want to help you do your best work. And I have a really great freebie to help you do just that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:28
It’s the you are meant to lead worksheet. And I have a link to it in the show notes. So at the end of the podcast, I will let you know how to how to track that down. So you can use that worksheet to really help you do your best work. So one thing that is very true about the world of work that we operate in now is that with the pace of change, the old rules are changing, they have been obliterated, rigid roles, structures and hierarchies and no longer matter. Gone are the days where you could command others to follow you. We now live in a world where influence is the name of the game. Do you know how to connect with others? Can you speak to the needs of others? Can you empathize? Do others know you care? Work is fluid, we need to be able to lead where we are specific roles are much less important than having skill sets that are valued in the new economy. And honestly, this is good news for everyone. It’s good for those who have been around because it means there are new opportunities for you. You bring your wealth of skills with you. But here’s the thing, you’ve got to be willing to relinquish those titles, because they really don’t mean that much anymore. So you’ve got to let go of some of these rigid structures that maybe you’ve held on to in the past. And you’ve got to make room for those coming up. And of course, this is great news for those newer to the work. Because there are some great opportunities for you to show, you can earn a seat at the table. But don’t expect anything to be handed to you. You’ve got to be willing to work hard, develop the skills and make a name for yourself. And if you do that, there will definitely be opportunities for you and a path for you. And even more than that, really the new economy is shifting under our feet. formal education matters less than it did even five years ago. So you know, a mom in Middle America working mainly from home is just as likely to be a multimillion dollar media mogul, as is a Stanford education Silicon Valley, playboy. And that’s pretty exciting. I mean, everything is disrupted. It’s it’s kind of cool. Like there are so many cool opportunities out there. So as we think about leadership, it’s so important to consider all the ways we can and do lead in our lives. So a mistake I often see people make and I would say, especially women, like I see women make this mistake a little more often is to say, Oh, I’m not a leader, or that’s not a role I could take on or a hate this one. This makes me so sad. I’m just a mother. That last one really makes me so sad because when I hear it, I hear a fundamental misunderstanding of what it actually means to lead. Right and, you know, to lead it’s not a title that someone else bestows on you. And there are so many ways that we lead in our lives every single day. So whether that’s in formal roles in our work, whether those are things formal and informal roles in the lives of our families, whether those are formal and informal volunteer work. And then of course, what about in your own life? Hopefully you’re leading in your own life. And that’s actually a huge one that sometimes we don’t even think about. So does that last one seem a little strange, right, we often don’t think about that one. But hopefully, by the end of the podcast, it doesn’t sound strange, I sincerely hope that you will take the charge to lead out in your own life. And I really hope that you will take that charge very seriously. I firmly believe that we must first lead our own lives, if we ever wish to lead or influence others. So I also want to say a little something about language. So I recognize that some of you may even be uncomfortable with the term lead or leader, I hope not. But I recognize like we might need to work with that a little bit. So some of you might feel that it draws too much attention to you, or that you’d rather stay behind the scenes. But I really want to be clear about one thing, there are so many effective ways to lead. You don’t have to be a raging extrovert,
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:23
you don’t have to be in love with a spotlight to be an effective leader. And in fact, humble leaders who shy away from the spotlight are actually
Unknown Speaker 6:31
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:32
some of the most effective leaders. So you know, the book quiet provides a really great discussion of the value of introverts and specifically as it relates to leadership. But more than that, right, there are just so many effective ways to lead, there’s not one way to lead. So every day you influence others. This is leadership. Every day you impact others for good. This is leadership. Every day you inspire others, this is leadership. Don’t shy away from leading, you are meant to lead, embrace your gifts, and lead in the unique ways only you can. So your leadership won’t look like mine, I hope it doesn’t, oh, we can I don’t think I don’t, I don’t think people can handle that. It won’t look like your neighbors, it won’t look like you know, your peers, it shouldn’t, right, your unique contribution is going to be unique, that’s going to be it’s going to have your brand on it. So as we think about leadership, I want you to keep Rene Browns definition of leadership in mind, because I think it provides a really great frame for what it means to be a leader. And this comes from her excellent new book, dare to lead, which contains the findings of her research on courageous leadership. So from her book, I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential. I love that definition. And when you when you look at a leader in that light, I mean, that includes so many settings, and so many roles, right? I mean, at home, at work in the community, in your own life. I mean, it really, it encompasses so much. And I think that that is absolutely the the best way to think in terms of leadership and to think of yourself as a leader and this idea that you are meant to lead, it’s time to step up, it’s really time to step up and lead. Okay, so as we think about solutions to help you lead and to step up, I really want you to think about leading in four main areas. And so I’ll have solutions in each of these areas. But really more than me giving you solutions. I hope that as you listen, that it will help generate some ideas for you. And that you will start to consider how you might lead in some of these four key areas. And lucky you I’ve got a great freebie to help you do just that. So this worksheet will really help you brainstorm some ideas around leadership in these four key areas. So again, more than me like giving you the answers like I could anyway, it really this freebie is designed to help you start generating some ideas to help you consider how you might lead out in different areas of your life, and so this freebie is called you are meant to lead. It’s a worksheet. And so with the shownotes, I will give you the link to the show notes. And that’s where you can access this freebie. And with a freebie, I will give you an example. So I’ll give you an example for me about some of the different areas of my life where I lead out or work to lead out. And hopefully, that can kind of just give you an example to kind of get some of those juices flowing. And then I really hope you will take the time and do the worksheet and that it will help you to generate some ideas. And so as we work through some of these solutions, I also hope that it will help you to start thinking about your own leadership and how you can really show up in your life and take some of these steps. So the four key areas that we’re going to talk about our first lead your life, this is a big one, of course, this impacts every other area. But it’s so important to really, first lead yourself, so lead your life. And then the second category is lead at work. And then the third one is lead at home. And then the fourth one is lead in your community. So those are the four areas that we’ll cover. And I will give you some solutions, some suggestions in each of those areas. Okay, so
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:32
the first area lead your life, let’s start with leading in your life as this really sets the foundation for all the other areas, and leading in your life is really all about self leadership. If you cannot lead yourself, well, you are in no position to lead others. In fact, you can’t show up well for others. And so the analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first is so true. You’ve got to breathe, if you are able to give service to anyone else. And so think of leading your life as putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. So solution one, consider taking an assessment to help you identify your strengths. So key to leading your life is really having an accurate assessment of yourself. So self awareness is the name of the game when it comes to self leadership. So I really like the Clifton Strengths Finder, it’s very well researched, it’s user friendly, and it’s really easy to find, I will link to it in the show notes. So the assessment is actually in a little book, like you can buy it at the bookstore, you can order it on Amazon, and you do the assessment. I think you do the assessment actually online, but like the code and everything is in the book. So you buy the book. And then once you do the assessment, you use the little, it’s just like a little book, it looks like a little gift book. And you use the book to kind of look at your results. And that’s really helpful, because then you have that book as a resource to, you know, review your strengths. And it’s awesome, because it’s really focused on cultivating your strengths and playing to your strengths. And it’s like I said, it’s very well researched, it’s user friendly, and it’s easy to get. So I will link to that. Of course, there are lots of assessments out there. And you know, if through your work, you’ve completed other assessments or you have access to other assessments, by all means use those, you know, I’ve done the color code assessment, and that’s a really great one. That’s also a really fun one. And so if you’ve done one of those sorts of assessments within the last year, pull those results out. And take a look at those, you know, I just did another assessment, what was it called? It was the P I the I want to say it’s the performance indicator, I’m not completely positive about that. But I just did that one recently. And that was also really helpful. And that was a fun one, as well. But the point is, you know, find one that you have access to, that’s well researched. And if you don’t have access to one, like I said, the Strengths Finder is an easy one that you know, you could just purchase the book, like on Amazon or you could find it at Barnes and Noble or something like that, and I will link to that, that one, but lots there are lots out there that you could use just as just as easily and if you have access to one through your work, do that because Easy, easy buttons are all about that. But these are really good to really go over and see okay, where where are my strengths? What are my driving values? What what are my career drivers, that sort of thing? Okay? Okay, solution to own your stories, your choices and your consequences. So take responsibility for every aspect of your life as an adult, you ultimately must own your life. And this is so important. When it comes to leading your life and self leadership, we’ve really got to banish excuses. And so owning your stories and your choices is really key to that. Solution three is to abandon blame and judgment. So when you when you blame or you judge, it’s, it’s you’re not taking responsibility. So I’m not saying that you haven’t been wronged. But I am saying that blame and judgment are not serving you, it really gets in the way of leading yourself, wow, it takes up all of this energy that keeps you from moving forward in your life solution for relinquish the roles of victimhood and martyrdom. So when we get caught in victimhood or martyrdom, that is you not taking responsibility. So, again, I’m not saying you haven’t been victimized, but remaining a victim is ultimately disempowering. And
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:32
martyrs ended up dead. So really, that is not a great end game
Unknown Speaker 16:37
on that one.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:38
Okay. And then solution, five, set goals and hold yourself accountable. So find an accountability partner. So in the past year, on two big goals that I have had I on one of those goals, I have an accountability partner. And then for another goal, I have actually an accountability group. And I cannot tell you how powerful These are for keeping me aligned with my biggest goals. It’s not always pretty, but it’s totally effective. So these accountability partners and accountability groups like they are their truth circles, right? Like, there’s no BS, there’s no avoidance, there’s no withdrawal, you really have to be totally accountable. And sometimes like this is sad to say, but sometimes it’s easy for us to lie to ourselves, right? Like we get really comfortable with our favorite justifications and our favorite rationalizations. But when we hold ourselves accountable to another person, it’s like hard to squirm out of things. Right. And it’s like other people don’t buy our bs near as easily as we buy our own BS. And when it comes to your goals, when it comes to leading Well, that’s a good thing for you. Right to have other people that don’t buy your Bs, it’s such a good thing, right? And like I said, it’s not always pretty, but it is so effective. And ultimately, it is a great, great thing. Okay, solution, six, be honest with yourself and others. Okay, so you’re not perfect, you will fall short. But it is so important to be honest with yourself when you do mess up, so that you can learn the lessons and move forward. And so when it when you do this ensures that you will fail forward because of course, you’re going to fail, of course, you’re going to stumble. But if you can be honest with yourself, then it will open you, it will open you up to the lessons. And that ensures that you fell forward that ensures that you learn the lessons and that you can move forward. And that is a really beautiful thing because that’s going to propel you forward in your leadership and in your life. Okay, so do you notice a theme with these first six solutions when it comes to leading your life? I hope you notice the theme. The theme is all around responsibility. It’s all about really owning your life. And leading your life is all about that. It’s like cutting through the Bs, cutting through the drama, cutting through the excuses and having your eyes on your vision. Right. So when we were talking about preparing for 2020 and having your vision and your purpose and your goals, right, that vision is your mountain, having your eyes on your mountain. Like what are you moving towards and not being dissuaded from that? Right? Yeah, we know it’s hard. We know it’s painful. We know you Have lots of reasons to turn back. Do it anyway. And so these first six solutions are all about unwavering responsibility for your life and for your choices. Right? Because, I mean, people make excuses all the time for not reaching their goals. Right? And it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t reach their goals, it just means they didn’t. All it means. Okay. So now, with solution seven, I want you to manage your energy, not your time.
Unknown Speaker 20:41
So most of us
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:42
focus on time management. And so we end up trying to fit more into our days, and end up running ourselves ragged in the process. So instead of managing your time, really, I want you to focus on managing your energy. So what do you need in place to have the energy to do your best work? So I really love this question, because it shifts the focus from what does the world expect of me? Which is that outside in view, to an inside out view, which is what do I need to bring my best gifts out into the world? Right? So it’s a very self reflective question, what do I need in place to bring my best gifts out into the world? So this question is focused on cultivating self awareness, self compassion, and self care, which are also so important when it comes to doing your best work. And ultimately, this solution, solution seven is also all about responsibility, because you must take responsibility for your well being, right. And that is all about managing your energy. Right? It’s not about managing your time, it’s about managing your energy, so you can bring your best work to the world. And that is so so important. Okay, and then the last solution in this category for leading your life, this also totally has to do with responsibility. It is so solution eight, learn to love work. So embrace the process of growth. And if you can’t love work, I hope you can. But if you can’t love work, at least learn to embrace the daily grind, learn to embrace the process, right? Learn to embrace the process.
Unknown Speaker 22:46
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:48
a lot of time fighting reality, lamenting work, and as a result, failing to lead themselves and others. Right. So too many of us really work for a specific outcome, rather than learning to work for as part of the process. So who do you become in the process of work, and recognizing that work is a function of growth, rather than working as a function of outcome, like I’m working for a paycheck, I’m working for a reward. I’m working for a specific gratification. And so being able to shift your focus from an outcome focus, to a process focus, and learning to embrace the process, learning to love work, for works sake. And that might feel like a really big stretch, especially depending on depending on your upbringing, depending on how work has been presented to you. So it’s interesting, you know, I I used to be an endurance athlete, so I used to do triathlons. I don’t do that anymore, because I’ve had two hip surgeries and something about a pesky hip will not let me do endurance racing anymore. So I’ve switched to I’m more of a power athlete now and do powerlifting which I really really love. But back when I was doing triathlons, it was so interesting because most of the people that I trained with like wish that their dear friends i love them so much and and many of them I’m still good friends with because there’s nothing like slogging it out at 5am to to get you close to people, but so many triathletes train trained so they can race, right? So they go through the process of training, which is a lot especially if you’re an endurance athlete. It’s a lot of work. It’s A lot of time, a lot of pain sometimes. But they go, they they train so that they can race. Because that race day, like that’s kind of the reward. And it’s a lot of work to race day is a lot of work. But like that’s kind of a high like crossing that finish line. And the achievement of a job well done. And race is awesome. Like, it’s, it’s a great thing. And it’s an important achievement important goal and finishing to finish to, you know, your racing season. So it’s awesome, like, a really great thing. But for me, as a triathlete, it was kind of always the opposite. Like I would, I would, I would race so I could train. So I didn’t love racing, probably because I wasn’t very fast. I wasn’t like a great triathlete, which I, that’s where I got to work on my perfectionism stuff. But I really loved the process of training, I really loved the daily grind, I kind of liked the daily work, which I recognize made me kind of unique among some of the athletes. And I also recognize that kind of makes me a little bit unique. Sometimes in in my work, like I, I recognize that sometimes people don’t always understand me, when like, I’m kind of grinding away on projects and that sort of thing. But what I found is like, there’s, there’s been a real power to that to be able to lean in, to work. And to love the process. Like to learn to love work, there’s something pretty powerful about that. And it’s not, it’s not just to work to, like, it’s not about suffering, because I find a lot of enjoyment and work, but to be able to love the process of growth and effort. And there’s something really empowering about that. And it’s in those moments that we figure out what we’re made of in a real way. And that is what self leadership is all about. And that’s, that’s pretty cool. So when we think about learning to love work, don’t look to cut corners, look to do the work, whatever it is, and do it well. I have this conversation with my kids all the time. Don’t look to cut corners, look to do the work and do it well. Be a completer be a professional, in whatever you’re doing. Be a finisher, be someone who others say, Wow, that is a professional,
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:45
whether it’s as a CEO, or whether it’s as a parent, on a field trip, like do it well, that it’ll make such a huge difference in how you carry yourself through life, it’ll make a huge difference in your life.
Unknown Speaker 28:03
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:04
let’s move to leading at work, solution, one, shine in your role. So know your work inside and out, and aim to do your best at it. Remember that you can lead where you are. And by doing a great job in your current role. Right. So sometimes when we think about weeding at work, we’re so busy thinking about the grass being greener on the other side, or, you know, feeling frustrated that, you know, we’re not in a quote unquote leadership position that we miss the opportunity to lead where we are. And, wow, it’s bad because people are watching us. And they don’t see leadership qualities. They maybe see someone with a bad attitude. Or they see someone who’s you know, cutting corners to think about our last solution. And so shine in the role that you currently are in, know your work, be the go to guy or the go to gal, aim to do your best. And really, I think it’s so important to remember that you can lead where you are and do do a great job in your current role. And don’t worry so much about the next step, right? I mean, I’m going to talk about that as we move on into leading at work, but lead where you are. Okay solution to ask for specific feedback about how you can improve. And then this is the really important part incorporate the feedback you receive. So if you received mushy feedback that fails to give you specific targets to work on, follow up with specific requests. So for example, I’d really like to improve my opportunities for advancement Can you provide me with specific feedback to help me improve and reach these goals? So the research shows that when people ask for feedback, they they get it, and actually, they improve, and they advance more quickly in their careers. Okay, so asking for feedback and asking for specific feedback is much better for your career. So don’t wait for people to don’t wait for your supervisor to give you feedback is what I’m saying. So, go to your supervisor, ask for specific feedback, let your supervisor know what your goals are. And that’s, that is related to the next solution, solution three, set specific work goals with your supervisor and or supervisee. And team. So accountability is the name of the game, when others at work, know your goals, you’ll likely find you have more support. Okay. So make sure you have work goals and make sure that those around you know what those are, right, because
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:09
the universe has a way of supporting you in those goals. And then you can also receive really good feedback to help you progress on those solution for look for opportunities outside of your designated role. So utilizing you know the support of others, don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunities at work that can help you develop new skills, or build valuable connections. So, you know, this was something that I did in my first position out outside of graduate school is I was interested in learning more about the business side of the company that I was working at. And so I said, you know, let me, let me participate in some of the business development activities, and they were thrilled, they were so excited to have me part of that. And it opened up so many doors for me, I can’t tell you how many doors that opened up for me. And really, I would say that was in part responsible for me moving into some leadership responsibilities with that organization, because they saw that I was motivated to contribute that I was capable, and that I was proactive. And really, like I stood out among my peers. And because I was willing to look outside of my designated role and showed an interest in, in what was happening in other parts of the organization. Okay, solution five, network outside of your department. So research indicates that those who build strong fluid networks across departments and domains are better able to reach their leadership potential. So this is also related to the last one, but don’t stay in your little cubby. Right? So get to know if you work in a large organization, get to know people, across departments and domains, participate in work groups, across the organization. If you work in a small company, network outside of your company, join meetup groups or join community groups that can help you to build your network, it can be really, really helpful for your leadership. Solution six, advocate for yourself, speak up in meetings and share your opinions. So women especially tend to hold back even when they have thoughtful and well reasoned opinions and perspectives that could move an argument forward. So be willing to speak up not only for yourself, but but for, you know, your opinions and what you’re seeing in a meeting and about decisions that are happening, or that are being argued about. Okay, solutions seven, challenge the imposter syndrome and ask yourself, why not me? So if you struggle with confidence, and I would say if you’re a woman at work, chances are good that you do. So guys also definitely challenge or struggle with confidence, but women tend to struggle more with confidence at work specifically, instead of asking yourself why me? When opportunities arise, ask instead, why not me? So you can definitely check out my podcast on the Jonah complex for more about a related topic to this, which is the fear of success, so that could maybe be helpful for you. Okay, so now let’s talk about leading at home. So solution one connects with hobbies and passions. So creativity is a lifeblood of leadership and passions can be one of the main routes, we bring new life into A world. Of course, this doesn’t just happen at home. But home can be definitely one of the most important places for this. So how do you create space for your passions? So are you a hobby guy or a passion gal, or vice versa, right? There’s no right or
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:18
wrong way to be. But it is helpful to understand yourself and find activities that resonate with you. So it might also be fun to try new activities and see what lands. So the key really is exploration and creativity. solution to home is our soft landing. So make sure you have room for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. So build in times, and spaces for all of these in your home life. And if you leave little ones at home, right, make sure you teach them how to create these spaces as well. So whether that’s quiet time, whether that’s reading time, whether that’s nap time, I’m a big fan of nap time. And make sure that home is a soft landing, make sure that it is a nest for you and for your family. Solution three, cultivate a mindfulness practice. So daily meditation, using an app is a great entry point. You know, I’m a big fan of that if you’ve listened to the podcast at all started even 10 minutes a day will make a big difference. solution for journal every day to increase self awareness. So I did a great podcast all about journaling. And there’s a really great freebie on journaling. So check out the show notes related to this podcast and to access that freebie, it’s got all sorts of great journaling prompts to help you. Solution five, live an active healthy lifestyle. So move your body spend time out in nature, eat fresh whole food from a variety of sources in a balanced way. Avoid extremes and teach your family to do the same. Right? Let’s don’t overcomplicate it, we don’t have to write like you don’t have to puree all your baby’s food. But let’s just let’s just be sensible. Let’s just be balanced. Avoid extreme. So let’s keep it let’s keep it pretty simple. Solution six. So I do try to avoid parenting advice. But I’m going to give you some lead by example. And as much as possible. Keep try and keep your mouth shut. That’s my parenting advice, your parenting will be much more effective that way. So lead by example. And then as much as possible, keep your mouth shut. There you go. Okay, so now let’s talk about the last area, which is leading in your community. So solution one, live your values, don’t profess them. So, so people going about quietly living their lives, living their values is powerful, and it has a powerful effect on our communities and on our world. Don’t underestimate that solution to be neighborly Get to know your neighbors, be friendly, take walks in your neighborhood, get outside of your own four walls, solution, three, volunteer, consider how you can best serve, and then do it. So maybe it’s PTA, maybe it’s part of the parade committee, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is getting involved and contributing solution for be part of the solution. If you see a concern in your community be part of the solution, not one of the many that complain about it while doing nothing to address it. We don’t have any time for those folks. So frustrating. So be part of the solution. Solution five, attend community meetings. Okay, I’m sorry about this solution. Because community meetings can be so painful. But they are good way to understand what is happening to your in your community. And a lot of the community meetings are live streamed now. So you could actually watch him from home. But you know, it is helpful to go and be be there in person because you know, maybe you have a question, or maybe you express a concern. So not always like the most pleasant experience but it’s part of the whole being a responsible citizen thing. So definitely value there. And of course, you know, voting that’s that’s important too. That’s part of being a responsible citizen. So definitely do that. And then solution six support community events. So attend the Firemen’s breakfast, and support your first responders. Go to the parades enjoy the annual festival. These are really important traditions that knit together a community.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:17
And they there are definitely you know, ways that you can contribute and strengthen your community. So I hope you will look for opportunities to contribute in your community. There are always ways to do that. And what I would say is your community needs, your strength and your leadership, there are definitely ways that you can contribute.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:40
So. Okay, so make sure you head on over to my website, to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode. And of course, to download your freebie you are meant to lead worksheet to see your leadership in the four quadrants of your life, right, the ones that we talked about today at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-42. One more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-42. And of course there, you’ll also find lots of great resources, including information on my upcoming e course confidence to lead, you can link to that and join the waitlist if you’re interested in that it’s going to be a great course all about what it takes to lead with confidence. I will also link to the podcast on journaling and you can access that freebie if you would like to, and then also to the podcast on the genre complex. And the Clifton Strengths Finder and also to the book quiet so and then of course don’t forget the great freebie for this episode. So thank you so much for your time, and I’d love to hear from you. You can definitely review the podcast on iTunes. And then of course, you can always connect with me on Instagram, Dr. Melissa Smith. So I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai