Do not work more than you live.

Do not work more than you live.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

You’re ambitious. I know. You have the desire to create. The desire to inspire. The desire to improve. And you’re doing it. You’re finally where you’ve always dreamed you would be. Or maybe just on the horizon. You can see it. You can taste it. You feel and hear it. You’re here.

But you’re tired, and deep down, you can feel it’s not enough.

You don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to say the thing out loud that you know deep inside of you. You don’t want to surrender to the quiet voice in the back of your mind. You can’t bear it – the truth that this life, this dream, this job is not what you thought it was going to be, and something is wrong. You don’t feel grateful to have the things you worked so hard for. You don’t feel inspired to keep going. You wonder if it will always feel this way. You wonder if it was worth it, or if it will ever be.

I’ve experienced this. It’s called burnout. 

One day, I had a job that I loved and was passionate about. I felt like I had to grip it so tightly, take such good care of it, or it would slip out of my hands and I would lose it forever. Two years later, I woke up and realised it was consuming my entire identity. It happened so subtly, and so quickly, that I didn’t have a chance. It disguised itself to me as ambition and achievement, but looking back, I can see it was actually obligation, compulsion and a lack of self awareness which brought me to my knees one morning. 

I was tired, and deep down, I could feel that it was not enough.

When you’re underneath the water, it’s hard to recognise that you’re soaking wet.

If you can identify with any of this, you may need what I needed, and that was to realise that my relationship with work was taking over my life. It wasn’t easy (surrendering rarely is), but once I let go, I finally had the strength to pull myself out of the water and dry myself off.

Three things you can do to start your journey to fighting burnout today:

  1. Realising you need help is the first step. Take a deep breath and know that you’re going to be okay. It’s not the actual work which is the issue, but your relationship to it. The good news is there are plenty of groups, programs, and people that can help you uncover the root of where your burnout might be coming from. All you need to do is ask for the help that you need.
  2. Make time every day for the things that bring you joy and only joy. This is important – it is not the things that bring you money, not the things that bring you titles, not the things that bring you physical results, but instead the things that fill your heart up in a way only you would know.
  3. Start setting small boundaries at work and keep them. Leave on time. Don’t answer emails after 6pm. Don’t volunteer to do more work than you need to. Even if it’s just once a week for now, pick one of these and stick to it. Any progress you begin to make is a win, so don’t worry about going big. Small steps are all it takes to get to where you want to be.

Eventually, your life will start to take shape into something that you have control over again, but even better – your life will start to feel like your life, and you’ll be safe and dry on the shore.

More on the Live Well, Lead Well Blog:

This is why you’re afraid to lead.

This is why you’re afraid to lead.

You love leadership because you love the combination of helping others and managing yourself in a way that inspires results.

You love the giddy feeling you get when an idea you’ve been expressing finally lands with someone else, or vice versa. Or that moment when you realise a team’s impact has become greater than their individual strengths, and together, they reach a goal. You love that sweet combination of feeling of accomplishment and belonging.

But you’re afraid to lead because you’re unsure of how to do it.

You’re afraid to lead because you don’t trust your abilities to build relationships or to produce results.

You’re afraid because you don’t think you’re good enough. You’re afraid because you think you’re too good. You’re afraid because you won’t be able to control anything. You’re afraid of other people’s expectations. You’re afraid you’re unlikable. You’re afraid you’re too shy. You’re afraid the industry isn’t right for your style. You’re afraid there already is a leader.

You’re afraid of being misunderstood. You’re afraid you won’t be able to relate to others. You’re afraid to put in the work. You’re afraid to show people who you are. You’re afraid of being rejected. You’re afraid of not getting results. You’re afraid of change. You’re afraid of what will happen to your relationships. You’re afraid you will be judged. You’re afraid if you do. You’re afraid if you don’t.

But what if your fear is wrong?

What if it all works out?

What if a year from now, you look at this list of fears and smile, grateful you did not let it hold you back?

What if the small voice inside of you and the feeling deep in your tummy is right?

What if you do know exactly what you should be doing and you for once decided to go for it?

What if those scary thoughts, screaming of fear, eventually became quieter, and visions or joy and transformation became louder?

What if, because you decided to do it, you made a difference in one person’s life?

What if, because you decided to do it, you made a difference in ten people’s lives?

What if the impact you make because you chose to step up reaches farther and wider than you even could have hoped for?

What if you listened to the voice that said “You Can, and You Should”?

What if you started today?

And what if today, you focused on what you can control?

What if today, you took the first step?

What if you were so much more powerful, loving, creative, productive, and enchanting than you realised?

Read More On The Live Well, Lead Well Blog

4 Questions That Will Get You Closer To Your Team

4 Questions That Will Get You Closer To Your Team

Building relationships is one of the most important parts of leadership. It may seem obvious, but your team needs to trust you in order for you to lead them. Trust can be such a broad term, so let’s break it down. What is it that they need to trust? Is it in your character, your decisions, your abilities, or your motives? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of these things are vital for your team to respect you. But, let’s not start with you. Let’s start with them. They need to trust that you know and care about them. 

Your team is made up of individuals. Each individual has their own set of personal goals, their own perspective, their own strengths, weaknesses, and fears. In order to influence your team, you need to know what drives them individually. There also needs to be room for compassion and empathy. Your team members want to be understood. They want to know that you, their boss, has their back, and not because you have to, but because you believe in them and you can empathise with them. You cannot empathise with what you aren’t sure of. 

How do you get started? 

Use the questions below to start learning about your team. They were taken from Jack Canfield’s 2005 book, The Success Principles. Jack describes attending Dan Sullivan’s “Strategic Coach Program” where he was taught to use these questions as a way to establish rapport and connection with another person. (Canfield, 2005, Pg 327)

1. If we were meeting three years from today, what has to have happened during that three-year period for you to feel happy about your progress?

2. What are the biggest dangers you’ll have to face and deal with in order to achieve that progress?

3. What are the biggest opportunities that you have that you would need to focus on and capture to achieve those things?

4. What strengths will you need to reinforce and maximize, and what skills and resources will you need to develop that you don’t currently have in order to capture those opportunities?

These questions are powerful tools you can use to build better relationships with the people you are leading. 

Prepare for your meeting with your team member by carving out some time in your schedule, and invite them to sit down with you. This can be done over coffee, a meal, or can be somewhere quiet, but make sure you will be able to give your full attention. Make the intention to understand them, not to be understood. 

We forget how powerful giving someone our attention can be. Show you’re fully present by turning off your phone, or putting it away. Make eye contact, and listen, not just to the answers they give, but try to gain a sense of what is behind the answers.

The best kinds of questions are those that naturally emerge from being unattached to a specific outcome.

(Hall, 2019, Pg 67)

Disingenuous attempts at building trust will be caught. If your motivation is a selfish one, your team will pick up on that, and it will move you further from building a trusting relationship with them. 

See where the conversation takes you and see where you can identify with your team member. You’re likely to find common ground, and you’ll definitely uncover some truths about what motivates them. Not only will this help you, but when they see that you’re genuine about these questions, and about your interest in them, they’ll feel closer to you and feel a sense of trust that may have been lacking before.


Hall, L. (2019). Coach Your Team. Nottingham: Penguin Random House.

Canefield, J. (2005). The Success Principles. US: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2005.

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

Getting Clear: When Purpose Gets Foggy

You’ve done it. You’ve sent in your resume, researched the company, made it through the interviews, and landed yourself the job. You feel excited but also completely terrified. Now what? I’ve been there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed during times of change. There are probably a lot of expectations involved too. Maybe you’re not starting from scratch at a new job, but you’ve been promoted, or maybe your workload is being added to. Maybe you’re finally stepping into the leadership position you’ve hoped for, but why does it feel so scary?

Don’t worry.

You’re not alone.

What you need is to give yourself the chance to reconnect with what your purpose is in this role. We can get caught up with the nitty gritty details of our day to day that we forget to zoom out. We forget to see the big picture, and we forget to recognise it’s not just the individual pieces we pick up that makes the puzzle work, but the picture itself, as a whole – that’s what we’re working towards.

This guide was designed to remind you of the big picture.

As leaders, it’s important for us to consistently reflect on our whys. Without inspiration, purpose, and motivation, our daily intent will lack authenticity, and our effectiveness in our roles (personal and professional) will suffer.

Are you ready to get clear?

All you need is 15 – 20 minutes to answer 10 simple questions. Let the clarity begin.

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3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

3 Practices To Help You Manage Your Emotions

Do you feel like you’re constantly spending time and energy in an emotional state you don’t want to be in? Do you take the time to fight these feelings or is there a process in which you acknowledge them? 

When you’re feeling happy emotions, you probably realise that you’re able to perform better. You’re more likely to engage with others, and more likely to choose productive activities. On the other hand, a negative emotion can cause you to withdraw from your team, and lead to procrastination. 

These negative emotions are probably draining your energy, and are then causing friction in your relationships at work. Stress, unexpected demands, and challenges can cause us to slip into these negative emotions daily, sometimes multiple times. Without recognising what triggers them and how to manage our emotions, we can stay in the fight, flight, or freeze reaction for much longer than we want to or is good for us. 

You can’t be in control of what you do not know. This is why becoming aware of your emotions is the first step in managing them. Whether it’s overwhelm, anger, or self- pity, we can spend precious time and energy fighting these emotions, and allowing them to become bigger. Without the ability to recognise our emotional states and how it affects others, we lose the chance to recognise them coming in the future, and change our habitual reactions to them. 

Another reason to be aware of your emotional reactions, and managing them effectively is because of emotional contagion – it’s the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. This is why it’s hard to be in a good mood if you’re talking to someone who is going through a rough time. It’s also why we’re more likely to get impatient at a bus stop if other people are acting impatiently. If you’re stressed, and aren’t able to recognise, and adapt your attitude quickly, you can “pass” this feeling to your team and co-workers. 

Below are some practical ways you can start to recognise, and manage your emotions.

Deep Abdominal Breathing 

Simple, and effective. The fastest way to signal your brain to turn off the fight or flight response is to take a few deep breaths. The next time you recognise a negative emotion come on, take five minutes to breathe. Inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds. It’s free, it’s quick and it’s powerful. 

Fuel Positive Emotions

Another way to push out the negative emotions is to fill our heads up with the positive ones. You can do this multiple ways: a gratitude practice, reciting affirmations, speaking to loved ones, or even exercise are all great ways to conjure up positive emotions. The trick is to choose this practice. It may be easy for us to retreat into fight or flight (biologically, it is our default when feeling threatened), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a choice. Practice doing the opposite and see how quickly you bounce back. 

Track and Reflect

Keeping a journal and reflecting often on what it was the made us feel reactive is a great way to build awareness of our emotions. Take five minutes before bed to note down the following:

  • What negative emotion did you feel?
  • What brought it on?
  • How long did it last?
  • What effect did it have on others?

The last question may be one of the most important. As managers, or even co-workers, we must realize the impact we have on each other. Most professionals spend more time during the week with their co-workers than they do with their families, and if we want to add value to the workplace, looking at how we manage our emotions is a great place to start. 

10 Things You Are Doing That Your Team Will Hate You For

10 Things You Are Doing That Your Team Will Hate You For

1. Complaining about your job, workload or company

Who wants to listen to their boss complain about their workload? NO ONE. 

There is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings, however, if you do feel the need to vent about work, vent to someone who is on the same level as you, or better yet – someone who isn’t involved in the company. If you are constantly bringing down the company you work for or complaining about your workload, you are subconsciously telling your team that A. it’s okay to complain and negative attitudes are acceptable and B. your workload is unmanageable and the company you work for is responsible for this. 

Another reason not to complain to your team is you may spark some resentments without intending to. You never know who secretly is wishing they had your job and the perks that come with it. You may look ungrateful to your team, and leave a bad taste in their mouth.

According to this survey, one of the top traits of a great manager was “having a positive attitude”. Don’t forget that negativity is contagious, and the easiest way to avoid it is to pay attention and adjust your own thoughts, words, and actions.

2. Micromanaging

There’s nothing worse than your boss delegating something to you, but not really letting you own it. Instead of trying to control everything your team does on a project, set clear boundaries and expectations of what success in this project looks like. After that’s done, let them get on with it. If a boundary is broken or they aren’t delivering on the expectations, you can then sit down and figure out how to help.

Harvard Business Review wrote a great piece on why we micromanage. It says that managers want to be more connected to their team, and want to stay in familiar territory, so they stay close and control things they don’t need to. The good news is, once you are aware of it, you can work to do the opposite. 

3. Asking loaded questions

A loaded question can also be described as a trick question. It’s when your assumption of the answer is alluded to in the question. You are basically setting the person on the receiving end up for the answer that you have assumed to be true. It’s a form of manipulation and can put people on the defence really quickly. Loaded questions in the workplace may look like:

“Did you understand the task I gave you last week?”

“Why have you been so short lately?” 

“Did you not get my email?”

“When did you start regularly leaving work early?”

You may be asking loaded questions without even realising it. This is why it’s important to prepare for your 1-2-1 meetings ahead of time. Think about what you’re going to say before you speak to a team member about their performance. Ensure you’re not assuming anything, and when in doubt, adopt an attitude of openness, honesty and curiosity. 

4. Giving passive aggressive answers

Passive-aggressive behaviours are those that involve acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive. This could include avoiding direct communication, withholding important information, or withdrawal and sulking. Psychology today says “The goal of a passive aggressive person is to cause others to feel frustrated and act out the anger that the passive-aggressive person is harbouring internally.”

Again, adopting an attitude of openness, and honesty with your team is your best bet. If you find yourself feeling angry towards a co-worker, but afraid to communicate it, check in with yourself and ensure you’re not acting in a passive-aggressive way. Once you have identified your feelings, you can practice communicating your needs openly. 

5. Telling them how they should feel

As leaders, it’s important we are listening to our team and doing what we can to support them. This could mean listening to a team member tell you something you don’t want to hear. Maybe they’re unhappy with the amount of work they have. Maybe they’re having trouble bonding with the team. Maybe they’re feeling down about something non work related. Their feelings might be all over the place, but your job as their manager and leader, is to listen and to accept what they say as true. When you tell them how they feel, you’re interfering with a chance for them to open up to you. 

We need to remember that our feelings and thoughts are the result of a million different factors, including genetics and unique experiences over time. Your team member may not see things the same way you do, which means they won’t feel the same way you do either. By telling them how they feel, as opposed to asking and listening, you’re taking away the opportunity for them to express themselves freely.

6. Not giving them your full attention 

In your regular 1-2-1 meetings with your team members, how do you signal to them that you are present? Do you put your phone away or do you leave it on the table, checking it occasionally? Do you make eye contact, or bury your head in the report? Do you notice their body language and name what you see, or do you ignore it? 

If you are distracted or only giving half attention, your team will sense it. To show up for your team means to give them your full attention when they are speaking. This sends your team the message that what they have to say is important. Feeling important helps a worker to be more accountable, and more productive as a result. 

7. Leaving out the explanations 

Giving good direction to your team is necessary for clarity and productivity in your workplace. If you have to give your team a task, ensure they know why they’re doing it. Frustration will quickly follow aimless tasks, and your team will either disengage immediately or resent you for “making” them do it. Your team wants to be informed so they can be better at their jobs. The better they feel, the better they will do. While clear, concise communication is key when giving any “orders”, the same can be said for your tone. Make sure you’re checking in with how you’re communicating with others. 

8. Not involving them in decisions that affect them

Just like not knowing why they have to do something would frustrate any worker, so will feeling left out of important decisions that affect them or their department. For you to get the best out of your team, they need to feel like their opinions matter. If decisions are being made about something that they know more about than you, the best thing you can do is get them involved. This helps take the pressure off of you, empowers them, and is ultimately better for the company if decisions are being made by those who are the most experienced in that area. Even if their desired outcome isn’t possible due to bigger picture views, they will feel trusted by you and are likely to take the news of the change easier knowing they were involved in the decision making process. 

9. Taking your frustration out on them

How well do you manage your emotions in front of your team? Can they easily tell when you’re frustrated, sad, or stressed out? Is that because you make your emotions known through your actions, words or tone? We’ve all done it. You snap at someone who just asked you a question, because you’re stressed out. You blame someone else for something going wrong, because you’re embarrassed to admit that you forgot about it. You punish the whole team for something one person did, because you don’t want to admit you didn’t train them properly. 

These things are usually obvious to the people around you, and won’t win you any fans. To be able to manage our emotions so they do not affect the people around us benefits our relationships, and your reputation. 

10. Saying one thing but doing another

In a post by Fast Company, Art Markman writes, “A leader who talks about the importance of treating everyone equally before retreating to the executive lunchroom is undermining the belief that the workplace is fair. The leader who talks about the importance of hard work but promotes only people in his or her inner circle is causing employees to question their workplace’s fairness.”

Actions speak louder than words, they say, but when actions and words are consistent, that’s when the real trust can begin with your team.

Creativity at Work

Creativity at Work

Before you read through, use the questions below to gage your current relationship with Creativity. You may want to write down your answers, or just allow yourself some time to think through your answers.

When you hear the word creativity, what comes to mind?

How often do you have creative ideas?

Do you make time for creativity?

Is creativity praised in your workplace?

Who is the most creative person you know? What makes them creative? 

Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. Why should you care about creativity? Well, studies show that people are more likely to feel happy or active if they’re doing something creative. Creativity has also been shown to reduce stress, improve problem solving skills, as well as pave the path to authenticity and self-awareness. 

Most people will tell you they either are or are not creative as if it was definitive, but creativity is actually a skill, and the wonderful thing about any skill is that it can be taught, learned, and practiced. 

Creativity was broken down into four steps by British Psychologist, Graham Wallis. 

  1. Preparation

In the first step, you will gather materials, resources or insights on what you’re trying to achieve or sources of inspiration for your upcoming project. 

  1. Incubation

Now, you will let your ideas marinate in your mind and allow yourself to brainstorm freely. 

  1. Illumination

This is when the idea you’ve been looking for presents itself to you. The “light-bulb moment”, which may come out of no-where, is what most people want to jump to without going through the first two steps.

  1. Verification 

Your idea has now come to life. You make the plan, write the story or get paint on paper. You can then hone and refine your idea as you continue to work on it. 

Looking at the creative process this way can help us see creativity more clearly, and show us that there’s more organised action required than we may have realised.

How can you bring creativity into your workplace? 

Do more writing, drawing or colouring. 

So much of our worlds are seen or processed through a screen, especially when working. When our attention is constantly pulled towards a notification, email or message on our digital devices, our brains don’t get a chance to day dream which is proven in this study to help boost creativity.

Three ways to do it:

  1. Planning out your day / week / month in a paper diary.
  2. Free writing for five minutes at the start or end of your work week.
  3. Invite your team members to present their ideas at your next meeting via markers and flip – chart rather than PowerPoint presentation.
Recognise and reward creativity in problem solving. 

To “think outside the box” when coming across a challenge in an organisation can be challenging, especially if there are no examples of it happening already. Keep creativity at the top of your team’s mind by recognising those who are utilising it to solve problems. Expect innovation and seek out cases of this in your and other companies to keep your team inspired. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Invite your team to share examples of creativity they noticed from other team members at your next meeting. Make this a routine, and your team will be more likely to recognise creativity when it’s happening, and also try it out for themselves. 
  2. Try the “20 ideas” challenge with your team. The next time you have a problem, challenge your team to come up with 20 possible solutions. Even if 99% of these solutions aren’t realistic, allow your team to work together to brainstorm and get creative. More than likely you will find the answer you need, and at the very least will have a great bonding session using creativity as the link.
  3. Encourage your team to share their ideas. Someone in your team may already have the answer your company needs, or has the ability to create it. Encourage your team to keep talking, brainstorming, and collaborating with each other. 
Change your environment.

Getting caught up in the same conversations with the same people, and having the same thoughts can limit our perspective. Why not try to inspire something different? In order to spark new insights, sometimes we need a new surrounding. Keeping our environment “fresh” can help us to gain a new outlook. 

Three ways to do it:

  1. Rearrange your office or desk. If you can’t rearrange because of space limitations, then add more décor or do some clearing of items you no longer use. 
  2. Hold your monthly meeting in a different location, or go for a walk with your colleague instead of catching up in the office. 
  3. Take a different route to work, or try a different place for lunch. Do this with the intent to observe your surroundings, and see what comes up for you. You may be surprised.

Big Magic Author, Elizabeth Gilbert said “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.” 

In order to challenge, engage, and improve your team or yourself, try incorporating creativity today. 

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

Keep It Simple. Keep It Selfless.

It’s Sunday night and I’ve got my eye on the clock. In ten hours, I’ll be walking back into work. Dread and anxiety used to follow a realisation like this. I love my job, but the pressure and expectations can become heavy, and the weight can feel impossible to ignore. The resentment and fear would get big, and usually there wouldn’t be a clear explanation of where it was coming from. I can recognize now that this is when I’m usually tip toeing around the “ME” trap, and the best way I’ve found to avoid this is to reframe my thoughts and zoom out. 

So, what am I going to do in ten hours when I walk into work? Instead of focusing on the meetings I have, tasks I need to get done, or problems that don’t have solutions yet, I keep it simple and break it down. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to work and help people. The complicated details about what makes the Sunday Scaries seem so real – the endless who, what, where, when, whys – all fall into place when I can focus on a bigger picture. Obviously, I’m still going to be in the meetings, get the tasks done, and try to solve the problems, but if I reframe this all in a way that’s less about me, and more about others, it feels easier. It feels simple.

However, if you’re stuck in the “ME” trap, it might not feel so simple.

The “ME” trap might sound like: “What is going to serve me?” “How does this task make me feel?” “I’m going to have so much to do tomorrow, how could I possibly have time to help anyone else.” “Why can’t everyone else think like me?” “I’m going to be so busy tomorrow.” “I don’t have time for this.” “But, who is helping me?” 

Sound familiar? The “ME” trap is deep and can leave you feeling resentful, stressed, and overwhelmed. Paradoxically, when looking from this point of view, your needs will never be met, and you will never be fulfilled. The trap is governed by your ego, and your ego can never get enough. Your ego’s job is to keep you separated, and as long as you stay in the “ME” trap, you’ll feel slighted, ungrateful, and you’ll forever be wondering when it will get better. 

To escape the “ME” trap, you need to turn your focus towards Selfless Support. That might sound like: “How can I help my team?” “What support does my coworker need right now?” “How does my colleague feel about this?” “What does my boss need from me today?” “What would make this customer’s day better?” 

Thinking of others, and acting on those thoughts, builds connection. When we are connected, we feel positive, and we feel useful, which will help to build self-esteem and improve relationships. 

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between Selfless Support and People Pleasing. There should be a solid understanding of what you’re capable of doing for others without taking on too much. Boundaries need to be in place, and it’s also important that you’re not doing work which steals an opportunity for challenge, growth, or empowerment for someone else. If a coworker asks for support, and you don’t feel like realistically you could help, be honest, and ask if there’s anything else you might be able to support with. 

Selfless support means supporting others without expecting anything in return. You are taking the self (or the ME) out of it, so keep an eye out for your ego when offering help, or looking for opportunities to support. If you notice any deeper expectations for a thank you, credit, or recognition, the act is not entirely selfless, and you may be dancing around the “ME” trap again which will leave you feeling disappointed. 

What about in your role? Are you not sure how to do that? Try to show up and see what happens. Make helping other people your main focus, and see what opportunities present themselves. 

Is it easy? No! But practicing Selfless Support daily has brought me closer to my team, my coworkers, and brought me more clarity, emotional intelligence, connection, and self esteem. I find that the less I think about myself, the better I feel. So, make it your mission to find ways that you can be useful. Look for opportunities to help others. You’ll sidestep the “ME” trap and walk straight into Selfless Support. 

Three things to try this week:

  1. Speak to others with kindness (regardless of the situation).
  2. Ask a co-worker how you can help support them this week. 
  3. Keep track of the “ME” thoughts you have. When you notice them, try to direct your thinking to supporting others and see if you notice a difference.

How It Started

How It Started

I was 19 when I took a job as a YMCA camp counsellor. I figured it would be easy, because I thought all I would have to do was play games with kids all day, and that was more or less true, but what I didn’t expect was the feeling that came over me when realised that 15 nine year olds were watching me, listening to me, and following me. For the first time in my life, I felt empowered. I felt important. I felt like I could make a difference. I’ll forever be grateful to the YMCA Camp Lakewood in Potosi, MO for giving me that feeling, and starting me on my journey to helping others through leadership and teaching. 

When I moved to London five years ago and began searching for a job, I knew that feeling was what I was missing. I wanted to help people, help people. When the management position opened up in my department, although I had only been in the company two months, I asked if I could be considered, and even though I didn’t get the job, what was put in motion was my journey to leadership and management.

So why leadership? What draws us to it? For me, it boils down to encouraging others. This is why I love teaching and it’s why I love training. It’s why I love team building, and it’s why I love being a manager. To see a team cooperate, support, and grow together is an incredible thing to witness, and to be able to encourage that process not only makes me feel better, but I can see now how much more successful a team is in reaching their goals when there is a strong leadership presence available to them.

Leadership envelops all of the qualities you could argue are vital for a better world – kindness, communication, trust, support – but with more and more research developing around effective leadership skills like mindfulness and compassion, it’s become a much deeper pool than previously realised, and one with more room for people who have different personalities, backgrounds and goals. It’s appealing for both the success hungry, goal oriented, productivity hounds and the curious, conscious, intuitive feelers of the world. 

Whether your goal is to improve your team’s communication, improve your relationship with your colleagues, or simply become more effective at your job – the foundations of leadership will help you get there. With 74% of UK professionals mirroring the leadership styles of their colleagues , it can be said that the most effective way to help lead is by learning and implementing these qualities within your team, and in your own life. 

By continuing to learn and develop leadership skills, we give permission to our team and those working with us to do the same. Being able to submit yourself to new knowledge, and being humble enough to accept the need for growth sends a powerful message to those around us. It says, I am not a finished product, and I want to be better. To have the humility to admit that to those who may look up to us or see us on a pedestal that is held up by titles, salary and invisible constructs, brings us closer to those we wish to lead. It humanises us. It shows them that the truth we all are seeking, lies within.

Leadership is necessary in the workplace because support is necessary. Commonality is necessary. Goals and direction are necessary. Without leadership, your team will feel lost. Without somewhere to walk to, the walk will be endless, and people will get tired. Without someone to walk with, the walk will be lonely, and people will get fearful. A leader not only shows everyone where they’re walking to, but a leader walks with them. 

What is a leader, if not someone who wants to support others in achieving a common goal? Can it be that simple? Whether that is a personal goal, or the goal of many, leadership requires putting the goal first, the people second, and the leader, themselves, last. If you have no goal, you have nowhere to go. If you have no people, you have no one to lead. A leader must be able to remove themselves from the situation in order to be truly effective. This can be a hard thing to internalise. Surely, my ego belongs somewhere in the equation? No. It does not. In fact, our ego can get in the way, and cause the goal to shift in our heads. What happens then is the goal is no longer common. Your goal may be something completely different from your teams, which will cause misalignment, communication barriers, and emotional breakdowns.

The lucky thing is that leadership can be taught. Like any new skill you’re trying to learn, you will struggle with trial and error. You will need courage, patience and you will need to practice. The rewards you will reap on the journey are fruitful and worth it. The ripple effect is far reaching and you may soon notice these skills helping more than just your team, but you personally, your communication with your neighbour, the way you view your reality. The road to being an effective leader doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to be lonely. We’re here with you, holding the lantern, helping you to see where you’re going.