January 15, 2024

Unlocking leadership: Becoming an engaged and informative leader amidst hidden hurdles

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Mandy Gilbert, in a lively presentation at Elevate, discussed the challenges of leadership and offered insights on becoming a better leader. 

Emphasizing the scarcity of natural leadership abilities, Mandy noted that only 10% of individuals are born with such skills, while 20% possess fundamental managerial qualities. The remaining 70%, Mandy included, do not inherently possess leadership talents. Authentic leadership is cultivated through practical experience and self-awareness, often gained through overcoming failures.

The Costs Of Failed Leadership & How To Overcome Obstacles

Looking at the lack of leadership development within most organizations, with a paltry 5% offering any type of learning despite 77% saying they see a leadership gap, the costs of failing as a leader: losing amazing employees, losing a promotion, and losing reach of goals you set out to achieve, or for founders to stall the growth of their business.

Failure as a leader can frequently come down to four leader archetypes:

The “Bestie”

This type of leadership comes down to letting employees shirk responsibility for their work, and lets things go with little to no questions asked.

The “Busy Leader”

The leader who is always too busy and seemingly important to spend time with people who report to them.

The “Superhero” 

Wants people to be aware that they can solve every problem, which causes people not to worry about problems they’re having at work.

The “Bully”

This is the worst type of leader. They make people feel ashamed about failures, self conscious about speaking up and lead to less productive teams.

All of these leaders develop teams that are less engaged, empowered and profitable, which is where effective training comes in to ensure current and future leaders don’t develop to fit into one of these four types.

Teams that feel engaged are 21% more profitable and 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.

Recounting Her Own Difficulties As A Leader

Looking at the types of backgrounds leaders typically have, 30% of entrepreneurs only have a high school degree, and only 10% have any sort of business degree. Along with this, which can make leadership for entrepreneurs even harder, is that 40% have Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), of this group Mandy belongs. 

Recounting her journey as a founder, with how “pumped” she felt to receive a $8,000 loan, Mandy emphasized the importance of self-improvement and leadership development. 

Having seen her own difficulties leading her recruitment agency Creative Niche within the first five years, Mandy spoke to how she focused on becoming a better leader via outside training with Bell Leadership Institute, where hard realities were put in front of her, and she learned how actions she takes today to improve employees wellbeing can help the company grow, which can include unpacking your own obstacles as a leader.

How To Become a Better Leader In 3 Steps

With a changing workforce, and the workplace environment that goes along with it, Mandy focused on three steps to becoming a better leader:

Leading For Millennials

Looking at the future of organizations with a largely shifting work demographic, leading for millennials is where Mandy sees future and current leaders really needing to focus their time. An emphasis on balance, flexibility and work boundaries is where your company should be focusing, along with clear and defined feedback on millennials that can make themselves be more successful.

Work On Yourself

Focusing on self awareness is an important step to become a better leader. Unpacking what makes you tick, what has led you to this point is the best way to see marked improvement as a leader. Remember, your leadership style is foreshadowed by who you were as a child.

Feedback Obsessed

Looking further into how to improve as a leader, Mandy focused on “safe feedback” which is feedback you receive after asking for it, instead of always just giving it to others. Remember, feedback is a gift, and it should always be treated as such.

Key Leadership Lessons

Developing as a leader isn’t always a path set in stone. However, there are five given traits that Mandy has defined as helping a current or emerging leader to undertake that leads to continued professional development and a team that feels heard, engaged and motivated:

Always Lead by Example

The most powerful thing you can do as a leader is to lead by example. It’s free and you can start doing it today in order to energize your team or company.

You Cannot Sell Buy-In

Buy-in only happens when you have a two-way exchange with those around you. As a leader you will need to make tough decisions, which may not always be popular, but you know your employees will feel heard.

You Can Only Be As Successful As You Effectively Delegate

If you’re hiring great people, it means you have to give them the leniency to fail and grow, which will in turn allow yourself as a leader to fail and grow in your professional development. 

It Is Never Too Late To Work On Yourself - Or Your Business

It’s okay if you’re a founder and you’re not the best leader today. It’s never too late to turn yourself and your business around. 

Being Respected Is More Important Than Being Liked

Consistency, showing up, being fair and leading by example are traits leaders need to take up in order to be respected by teams, employees, investors and the like.

Thank You

Thank you to the Elevate Conference for giving Mandy Gilbert the opportunity to have the time to speak with the audience about the importance of leadership, and what it takes to become an effective leader.

“Whether you are a future leader, you're an executive or a founder, having the willingness to put your ego aside and understand your insecurities and how they're showing up and doing the hard work, I guarantee you, is gonna be the best investment you'll ever make in your career.”