I’m only twenty-eight. Since I finished college and started working, I have had about five years in the “real world” under my belt. However, a lot has happened in that five-year period.
Like most people right out of college, I have held a couple of different positions since entering the workforce. I’ve worked in traditional 8-to-5 environments with formal corporate structures. I’ve worked in fast-paced agencies that operate in a constant state of start-up mode. I’ve worked as a remote freelance team member where I was able to choose the projects and leaders I supported. It’s given me a great perspective on different kinds of leaders. It has also made me think about the kind of leader I want to be when I am finally in a leadership position.
5 Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from 5 Jobs in 5 Years
In reflecting on the different bosses I’ve had over the years, the best leaders shared these five qualities:
The best leaders want more for me than they do from me.
The best leaders have always approached the relationship by wanting to add value to my life rather than use me to accomplish their mission. They recognize the people under them are there for a season and want them to leave better versions of themselves than before they came under their leadership.
The best leaders remember what it was like before they were leaders.
Leaders who can empathize with the everyday challenges and struggles of the people they lead earn greater respect and loyalty. They recognize the people they lead are much more “in the weeds” of the work and are patient and understanding to their challenges.
The best leaders customize their approach with everyone based on their unique characteristics.
While there are certain leadership principles that are always true, the best leaders I’ve worked for know how to influence everyone based on the way they are uniquely wired. Rather than leading everyone the same, they recognize that different personalities need to be lead differently, and they adapt how they interact with people based on their own individual strengths and weaknesses.
The best leaders know when to speed up and slow down.
Some leaders go full-throttle all the time, only to burn out their employees. Other leaders might hesitate to challenge or stretch the people they lead because they want to maintain the relationship. The best leaders recognize there are seasons when people need to be “pushed out of the nest” in order to grow and develop. But they also recognize the need to run at a pace everyone can keep up with rather than sprinting ahead and exhausting everyone who is trying to keep up.
The best leaders value the vision and people equally.
Some leaders who see the people they lead as a means to an end, assets to mobilize to accomplish a certain vision. Then there are leaders who see the people who forsake the vision in order to avoid rocking the boat. The best leaders are committed to accomplishing the vision they have, but they recognize the value in the people who are supporting them in that endeavor.
I have enjoyed getting to learn from people who are smarter than me. I am learning some truly great skills that are shaping my future. I don’t have a clue what will happen by the time I’m thirty, but I do feel like I’m learning great leadership skills.
As someone who is still in the process of being “led” these are the characteristics that are must-have qualities in a great leader. As a leader, you are not only teaching someone a “job,” you’re also influencing what kind of a leader they will become.
Question: What leadership characteristics have the best leaders you’ve worked for shared?