Welcome to the first in a series of 12 blogs written with the emerging female leader in mind. If you are new or have 3 years or under experience in a leadership position these blogs are for you. If you are a team leader, supervisor, department head or other and in your first leadership role, this is definitely for you.
I am sharing these pieces with you to inspire, enlighten and let you know that there is someone who really understands where you are now. I know about the joy, the pain, the triumph and the challenge. I understand where you want to go, and also if you’re not sure where you want to go. I know how it feels wanting to be at your best, to have good working relationships, as well as increasing your influence and earning potential.
So, how do I know about these things? I’ve been there! I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learned. I’ve had challenges, then I’ve triumphed. With these experiences, I’ve grown, and now I want to help you to do the same and become the most phenomenal you can be.
One of my first experiences of being in a leadership role was when I was at the youth centre in my school. I was around 17 and was challenged by my youth leaders to get a volleyball game together and make a team. I’d never played volleyball before and had no idea how to put a team together. I was a restless kid and a bit of a rebel with little focus, but my youth leaders saw potential and I think they wanted my to have some sort of direction. Anyway, I learned the rules then asked my friends to play, but they were not interested at all. So I asked some other people and I got a few nods and quite many no ways. People who attended our centre were into basketball, badminton, weights and table tennis but none were into or had ever played volleyball.
Now, if anyone knows about volleyball, you’ll know that it is a 6 aside game. I had 5 interested players… including me and one other girl. Me being me, and rising to the challenge, decided that we would still play, so I set up the net and posts in a very warm sports hall. We started playing with 2 aside. Then as people walked past I called them over to join us. Some did, while others walked on. To cut a long story short, I managed to fill the court and have 6 aside… eventually. Mostly with boys, I might add, but who cares, we had a great couple of hours. I fell in love with the sport so much that I ended up playing beach volleyball internationally. A few years later I received a Community Sports Leader Award then began to recognise my contribution to the youth centre.
These and many other early experiences have paid off and have served me well in my life and career. They’ve served me well in my career because I have gone where others have feared to tread, such as taken the lead without being asked or asking for a raise. These things have helped me rise through departments or organisations with relative ease. I recognised my contribution to a team or company, where ever I went.
I have developed a model specifically for emerging female leaders called the 4 Pillars to Successful Leadership. In this edition are focusing on ‘Recognise Your Contribution.’
Recognise Your Contribution
When you want to make a valuable contribution to anything, especially in your current leadership role, make it helpful, innovative and unique. This is an art that can be mastered and here are 7 ways you can start to make what you do count:
- Noting your contribution is a relatively simple thing to do and doing it more will be good for you, especially your confidence. The ease comes from standing back and looking at the task and seeing how you contribute to it, in the role you’re in now, whether as an aspiring or emerging leader. I think it is crucial that everyone knows their role, e.g. ideas person, gatherer of information, problem solver, analyst, and leader. If there are people in your team who are strong in a particular area let them take that lead. However, be clear on your contribution as leader.
- Your contribution as leader, when it comes to any task, is to ensure that your team stay on track. When a problem arises you can bring people together, as soon as possible to find solutions, then get them back on to task.
- As leader, you are a cheerleader or supporter. When things are moving along, you are the one giving encouragement. If anyone is stuck you help them become unstuck so they can carry on with the things they need to do and function at their best.
- As a leaders we have to remember we have this thing called life, where things can happen beyond our control, such as emergencies, which take you or members of your team off task. Your contribution is to make sure that you understand what each team member is doing, that their role is covered and that they understand yours. Depending on the size of your team or budget, you can either get another team member to double up, step in and do it yourself, or outsource.
- When you think of yourself as leader in the wider context, your contribution to any organisation is crucial. You will be the person who feeds back to a line manager or management team about your team’s performance.
- Your’s and your team’s contribution to your organisation is integral to its existence. It is your role to support your team, where you can, so that they, and you, can function at your best.
- The most important thing is that your team look to you for guidance and support so look after yourself to make sure you contribute toward your department or team success.
We all have an important part to play, anywhere we go and the more we do as women the more we become. We are all part of a family, community, society, country and world. We have something important to give and there will always be someone who wants and values what we have, so let’s give it with our best energy and intentions.
Grace Leslie-Graham is the Director of Impact Coaching & Consultancy, a training company that provides ILM certified leadership development specifically for emerging female leaders. She has more than 20 years in leadership and management, and almost 30 years working within the public, private and charity sector. She is a certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, and Leadership Coach, and provides tailor-made services to women who want to be the most phenomenal leaders they can be!
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