Today I gave a breakfast seminar at Buzzacott LLP to 26 partners in law on the topic “Leadership at Senior Level: Making It Last, Keeping It Fresh.”
Key themes were:
- Purpose & Ambition: Know which of your strengths put you “in flow” and which deplete you. Dream big and write it down in the past tense, as if you have already achieved it. Talk about where you are going next in the present tense. Seek more ways to use your energising strengths, and don’t give in too often to others’ demands for you to use the talents that drain your energy.
- Environment & Organisation: Widen your scope of curiosity to keep fresh and to continually seek new ways of contributing and engaging with others. Consider political, cultural, social, and competitive forces and how they impact your purpose and what your clients need for the future. Connect more widely.
- Self-Knowledge: Strive to live your values. Don’t let your own automatic responses get in the way. Know what triggers your “driver” behaviours such as perfectionism, pleasing others, being stern or tough with others. Rather than automatically indulging in those behaviours, plan out different approaches you can take in
those moments that are more in tuned with your values. Ideally, these involve using your energising strengths.
In closing: Be kind to yourself by setting realistic expectations, recognise that failure is temporary, and allow yourself to fully celebrate your successes. Careers need to last a bit longer than they used to, make yours one of fulfilment and continual growth.
The audience for this talk was entirely female. For those of you guys out there who wonder why have a “women only” event, the plain truth is that it is easier to bring more women into the discussion when the audience is entirely female. Every time I attend an event that is mainly female, but with a few men, guess who are the ones who ask the questions? Yup, it’s the men. Nothing against guys who put themselves forward, particularly if they ask insightful questions. At the same time, I do ardently wish more women would be able to do the same without risk of social backlash for being “too outspoken,” “aggressive,” or “domineering.” Our silence is often automatic in mixed gender settings, I fear, and until it is not, women only events will continue to be needed.
As a leadership consultant, I’m in the business of helping people be better leaders. From my perspective there aren’t different techniques or methods for women than there are for men. It is simply a matter of leadership. And to be a good leader means to reflect and question oneself. And a lot of us need a closed door environment to do that. The discussion today was rich, insightful, and passionate–and it started today after several long, golden pauses of silence and reflection.
Founder of Talent Futures, Ltd.