Follow me! Follow me!!!!

This is how I started my morning. My youngest daughter, Leia, is four. And she loves to sing ‘Following the Leader’ from Peter Pan. However, she doesn’t love it when people don’t actually “follow” the leader (her). It usually ends up with her throwing a fit and me having to put her in a timeout.

But this morning it made me think. I’m not sure why it hit me on this particular day but I just found it funny that sometimes people think leading is actually that easy. Just a matter of saying ‘I’m the leader’ and then throwing a fit until they follow you…not sure how many people will line-up behind you by taking that approach. Or enjoy lining up behind you any way.

I’m obsessed with learning as much as I can about leadership and what makes someone a good or successful leader. Mainly because one of my biggest professional fears is failing as one. (There, I said it.)

I’m a little beyond my first 100 days as president of AKHIA and I’m here to tell you…leadership is either 1.) a little harder than you think or 2.) as hard as you think it is – it really depends on your viewpoint.

For me, I had 100-day goals that I thought were appropriate leadership metrics. And we hit almost all of them. However, I realized it wasn’t hitting these goals (or goals like these) that make you a leader. In my opinion, it really came down to four things:

1. Empowering others. It’s really not about you at all (how appropriate given the business we’re in). Empowering others to hit their goals…and giving them the chance to succeed is defining you as much as it’s defining them.
2. Be yourself. There is no guaranteed formula, no 10-step program – becoming / being a leader is different for everyone because everyone is different. Being yourself and trusting your gut – trusting what ‘got you there’ in the first place – is the best touchstone you can have.
3. Listen. I talk a lot – or so I’ve been told. But the best thing I could do over the past few months is listen. Sometimes…it’s hard to listen. You don’t always like what you hear. There isn’t always a solution. You may not always agree. But you’ll always learn something.
4. Patience. Patience is a virtue…yea, yea. Patience sucks. Especially when you’re in a business like ours. But when it comes to ‘you’, patience can be your best friend. You have to realize that everything you want to be will take time. As my creative director told me when she quoted Vince Lombardi ‘Leaders are not born, they’re made.”

I wish I had more for you but hey, this is only after 100 days. Hopefully this is enough to make people want to follow you (without throwing a tantrum).