On Leadership… July 27, 2017 by Jamie WestermanI am the oldest of three kids. My siblings thought more than once growing up that I was bossy and overbearing. I, on the other hand, look at this in a different way. I like to look back on my childhood and view this as early leadership training. After all, bossing, I mean leading my siblings around was my first taste at what it feels like to be looked up to. I realized early on setting an example was something I was good at and really liked to do. Leadership is an interesting thing, because you can be a leader without even noticing. If you are directing a group, yes even if it’s your younger siblings, you are leading. If you are guiding someone, you are a leader. For some this comes natural, for others leadership takes work and practice. When I was in grade school I spent two or three summers at a week-long leadership camp with my best friend. There we bunked up with strangers, learned to canoe, play racquetball, jump off the high diving board, perform in front of our camp counselors, and survive away from home. I didn’t know it then, but that camp provided practice in three things that are key to leadership: copying, confidence, and communication. In my business, the best copycat wins. To learn and to lead you need to be coachable and open to criticism. I have spent most of my life working in medicine so starting a business was not even on my radar. I had A LOT of learning to do about business in general AND how to lead my team to success. Had I opted to go my own way and ignore the guidance of other successful leaders in my business, it would have been a bumpy road as I floundered through territory unchartered by me (but already mapped out by others). Now don’t get me wrong here, leaders are creative and think for themselves and at times choose not to follow the crowd in order to grow. But in the end, great leaders copy what other leaders have done well and make it their own. I am constantly on the look-out for books by leaders I admire. I don’t just focus on leaders in business, but leaders who inspire, who encourage, and who provide an example I want to copy in my business and in life. Leaders are confident. They are courageous and believe so much in their vision that their self-confidence shines through. Assurance like this is not easy for everyone, and for many people confidence can be a significant challenge. But as a leader, if your certainty for a belief, a product, a service, or an idea doesn’t shine through, the people looking to you to bolster their own confidence will waver. It took time and practice for my confidence in my business, my product, and MYSELF to grow but you better believe I actively work on it daily. By using affirmations and setting my intentions daily to do better and be better, my confidence has grown immensely. And by celebrating victories daily and making actionable plans for improvement at the end of each night, my confident voice has learned to shine through. Notice I say DAILY. Leadership in any space is not a SOME time thing, it’s an ALL THE TIME thing. When you are a leader, what you do resonates every single day so exhibiting that confident, encouraging self is something you must always keep in mind. Don’t mistake this for arrogance or perfection, just know that a leader’s example is powerful. One of my strongest leadership qualities is communication. I am good at people. A huge part of what I do as a nurse practitioner requires me to connect with my patients. It’s what I love to do so it comes easily for me. As a leader, clear communication with my team is critical. When I communicate with someone, talking is only a small part of the equation. What is even more important is listening, observing, and relating. An overwhelming piece of communication with someone is TRUST. If your communication is one sided, the person on the other end will lose trust and become uninvested. At that point, communication will become much more difficult and ineffective. Communication is about relationships, I realize now this is what I spent my summers at leadership camp learning to do. Forming relationships, even if they are only week long relationships, develops easier communication and therefor enhances connections making leading easy. I realize empathizing and interacting isn’t everyone’s forte, but again this is a skill you can practice and build on. Leadership is a challenge with great rewards. Whether it comes natural for you or is a skill you must exercise, putting time and effort into your leadership skills will benefit not only your business but your life. For more tips on leadership email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect! Recommended Link: The 7 Ted Talks every leader should watch.