Be Self-Aware. Practice Self Care. Lift Others.

Be Self-Aware. Practice Self Care. Lift Others.

Smart Style Leadership encourages leaders, both fresh and skilled, to connect to themselves in order to truly connect with others.

It’s my belief that without this basic form of self-love, the connection and acceptance of ourselves, we aren’t able to lead those around us effectively or authentically.

SSL’s values are simple.

Self-awareness invites us to step back, and observe. It requires honest reflection, action, and is the first step to growth and connection. Unless we can understand our own motives, triggers, strengths and weaknesses, we run the risk of developing disingenuous relationships, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Self-awareness is our ability to notice and monitor our inner-world – our thoughts, feelings, emotions – but also how others are receiving us.

Self-awareness is vital in leadership because it is the first step to change. With awareness comes the ability to consider different choices, and different choices will present opportunities for a different outcomes.

Self awareness can look like taking responsibility and apologising, setting a boundary and committing to it, being present, challenging your thoughts and actions, reflecting, pausing before responding, acknowledging and celebrating your wins, asking for help, getting an outside opinion, making changes, working harder, or learning something new.

Being able to dig deep, connect to yourself and be aware of who you are brings you the chance to truly care for yourself.

Self-care is trusting yourself, protecting yourself, and tending to yourself. Put on your oxygen mask before helping another person with theirs. Keep filling up your cup and let the overspill fill up others. Know and accept yourself so you can care for yourself fully.

Self care can look like hot baths, scented candles, face masks, but it can also look like paying that bill, eating the salad, shutting your phone off, going to sleep, cleaning your room, calling your mom, sitting in silence, getting up early, or sleeping in later. It can be as simple as speaking kindly to yourself. It will look different every day and for everyone, and this is why self-awareness is important to help you navigate what is it that you truly need – not what your ego tells you – not what your friends, boss or mom tells you – but what, based on honest reflection and loving awareness, is going to be the best for you.

Live well, lead well means caring for ourselves so we can care for others. It means connecting to ourselves so we can connect to others. It means fighting for ourselves so we can fight for others. The reason we do this is to shine the light for others. Whether you are a manager looking to engage your team, or a student wanting to show up more for those around you, leadership is a lifestyle, and lifting others is the reason why we do.

Lifting others can look like showing gratitude, offering to help, giving a compliment, giving your time, being useful, making it about them, removing yourself from the narrative, asking what they need, holding a safe space, listening, encouraging,or supporting others.

We willingly and relentlessly practice helping and guiding others. This is how we stay humble, stay present, and keep learning. This part may scare you, but leadership wouldn’t exist without the people around you. It’s really about them, and once you’re self-aware, and practicing self-care, you will be strong enough to lift others too.

And this is how we lead x

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Thank you for taking the time to read this page.

I’m Courtney, and I write about leadership. I love connecting with like minded people, so please reach out and let me know what you’re working on or how I might be able to help. You can also say hi in the comments below ❤

Growth Mindset + Friday Fails

Growth Mindset + Friday Fails

Theorist, Carole Dwek, developed the concept of a growth mindset. Since then, popular ted talks and industry thought leaders have highlighted the importance for individuals, teams, and businesses to practice and develop a “growth mindset” in order to flourish long term. 

If this is the first time you’ve heard of this concept, there are two definitions you’ll want to grasp first – that of a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,”

While you can dive deep into the topic and find debates on when a fixed mindset may be more favourable than growth, or analyse the worrying, emerging trend of the False Growth Mindset, it’s safe to say that developing a growth mindset in yourself, and your team is a useful strategy to achieve ceaseless opportunities to develop. 

After reading and learning more about the growth mindset, I wanted to find a way to embed this more in my own team at work. I created a practice called Friday Fails:

Once per week, create a forum for your team to openly discuss a mistake they made, or something that went wrong for them throughout the week. Keep the focus on their mistakes, what they learned from it, or what they will do differently next time.
The benefits of developing this sort of practice with your team:
  • This will allow your teams to learn from each other’s mistakes (if one person has made that mistake, chances are others will too). 
  • This will encourage your teams to be open and honest with each other and management. It will discourage them to feel ashamed of getting something wrong, and will encourage them to learn from the mistakes they have made. 
  • This will allow you to pay closer attention to what is happening in your teams. Are the same mistakes being made over and over? If so, is there something that can be changed to prevent this from happening? Maybe more specific training, or a new process is needed to help prevent these problems. 
  • This will help build rapport and trust within your teams. In my experience, when we openly share our vulnerabilities with each other, it creates room for honesty, openness and a deeper connection. 

Some other useful tips you can help create a “growth mindset” culture within your team:

  • Do not reprimand your team for bringing a mistake to your attention. While performance management may still need to take place, depending on the mistake, you should always encourage your team to be honest about their mistakes vs. trying to cover them up. 
  • Start by evaluating your own mindset. You can start by answering these questions, as they may give you a bit of insight into your own attitude and mindset around mistakes, learning, and growth: How do you approach change? How do you approach learning? Do you believe people are capable of growing, adapting and changing? Do you feel comfortable admitting when you’ve done something wrong? Are you open to criticism of your methods and processes? How do you encourage your team to learn? Do you demand perfection from your team? How do you handle mistakes? 
  • Continue to reflect and develop your own self-awareness to ensure you’re not falling in the “false growth” mindset trap. Be honest about whether the progress you’re praising is getting the results that are needed. Telling your employees, for example, that they can progress into a new role is not as helpful as showing them how they can progress with honest, direct feedback, and development opportunities.

While there is still much research needed on developing this mindset within the workplace, the findings so far suggest that at a minimum, growth-mindset firms have happier employees and a more innovative, risk-taking culture. 

If you have any tips or practices for developing a growth mindset in your team, please share your ideas below.

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Why self-awareness will make you a better leader.

Why self-awareness will make you a better leader.

Why is self-awareness important in leadership?

To understand this, let’s first understand leadership – what is it and what is its purpose? This could vary in complexity depending on who you ask, but the answer should always come down to getting results. A leader’s job is to guide a group of people to a final destination – or to achieve a final goal.

The Results / Final Destination / Goal

This part is really important, because if you’re a leader, you should know where it is you’re leading your team. If you work in the private sector, then the final destination would probably look like making sure your team or department is contributing to the bottom line of the business, however, in a non-profit sector, your final destination might look like a more service based goal. 

Example: The final destination (goal or results) of someone who runs a kitchen in a restaurant might look like a safe kitchen that turns out delicious food in a reasonable amount of time, which also makes a profit for the restaurant. 

Regardless of what the final destination is, there is always going to be a leader who is helping those around them to get there. 

But Then There’s Bad Leadership

Have you ever had a boss that you couldn’t stand? You probably know what Bad Leadership looks like then. It may look like someone who does get the results – they will get their team to the final destination – but what did they exchange for it on the way? What have they lost as the result of their expedition? It’s usually either one of two things. 

The first would be the respect of the people they are leading. A leader must ask themselves this question – are people following you because they want to or because they have to? If it’s the ladder, there is some work that needs to be done to improve your relationships with the people you are leading. It’s also important to recognise that once you reach your final destination, you then have to stay there. If you’re using bad leadership, you won’t be there for long. There’s now multiple studies proving a healthy working environment (aka how happy and safe do your teams feel) is conducive to production. 

The second thing that could have been sacrificed to get to the final destination using bad leadership was their own sanity, and health. If you play the martyr role and are constantly sacrificing in order to get your team to where they need to be, you’re running the risk of burnout and exhaustion. You shouldn’t have to forgo your own happiness in order to get the results, and if you do, there’s work that should be done around pleasing people and boundaries with work. This will ultimately pay off for you and your team in the long run.

So, how do you create a positive, safe environment for you and the people you’re leading? This is where self-awareness comes in. 

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was leading her team to their final destination. The journey was long, and the path was narrow, but she was certain she could get her team to where they needed to be. She was motivated, confident, and had walked this path before with a different team, so she had no doubts in her mind about where she was going. There was a problem, however, because this leader had really poor eyesight, and as a result, she would misstep and run into her team a lot. She would step on their toes, run into them, or stop along the way and trip on things on the path, holding everyone up even if it was very cold. 

After a while, her team started to get frustrated with her. They begged and pleaded with their leader, “We want to follow you, but you keep stepping on us, and it’s starting to hurt. You keep tripping and holding us up in the cold, and we don’t think we can keep walking with you if you’re going to keep stepping on us like this.” 

The woman listened to her team’s pleas with empathy, and she promised she would watch out for these things. Very quickly, she realised, though, how difficult it was to watch out for her team’s feet. It wasn’t that she wanted to step on their toes, it was that she couldn’t see in order to not. The longer they walked, the more she stepped on them, and eventually she resigned to the fact that this is just what it would have to be. The woman decided that it was the team who would have to watch out for her. This added extra pressure on her team. Not only were they trying to get to their destination, but now they now had to watch out for their leader so they wouldn’t get stepped on and held up. 

It was a stressful journey, and many people decided it wasn’t worth the trek any longer. 

Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this – all our leader needed was glasses to see, and all of this would have been avoided. Because she couldn’t see what was in front of her, her and her team suffered.

Self-awareness is your glasses, and developing self-awareness is not only important for your own confidence and resilience, but is vital to understanding how you are contributing to the world around you in order to build stronger, healthier relationships. 

Self-awareness is our ability to notice and monitor our inner-world – our thoughts, feelings, emotions – but also how others are receiving us. Both parts are critical for effective leadership. 

If you’re aware of the negative emotions you may have in regards to a task you have to complete, but aren’t aware of how this affects those around you, that’s a blindspot. You may be stepping on someone’s toes, making it difficult for them to journey with you, and not even know it. On the other hand, if you’re overly sensitive to how you are affecting those around you, you may be tuning out your own feelings and emotions. It’s been said that only 10 – 15 % of people are actually self-aware, which leads us to believe that it’s a lot harder than it seems to strike the balance. 

Luckily, like any skill, it’s something that can be practiced and improved on. If you’re reading this, it’s like because you’ve taken an interest in developing self-awareness. Being honest with yourself about what you need to improve on is always the first step towards change. 

Two things you can do to start improving your self-awareness today:

  1. Seek feedback about what your blindspots are from those who would have your best interest at heart. Be mindful of those you chose to get your feedback from. Ensure they are people you can trust, but also that they themselves have good values which are aligned with yours. 
  2. Start reflecting. If you notice you’re having an off day – ask yourself what happened. (avoid asking yourself “why”, as research shows that too much introspection, and this question specifically, can actually be counterproductive, instead ask yourself “what”). Be specific, and be honest. You will start to notice patterns in your emotions in correlation to circumstances and incidents happening in your life and throughout your day. You can then dive deeper into how to manage these triggers, and your emotions which follow. 

Thank you for reading, here’s where you can read More On The LWLW Blog:

Stop giving your peace away.

Stop giving your peace away.

There’s one thing that is always going to come with work life, and that’s having to interact with people who will try to take your peace. Conversations with these people may feel exhausting. Knowing you have to speak to them and work with them may fill you with dread. Even a text or email from them can feel like an attack – they aren’t in the room with you, but somehow, they still manage to affect you. Your mind is the battlefield and they’ve got missiles. They take up your time, physically, mentally, and spiritually. How do you protect yourself from this?

Have you ever found yourself in the shower, defending yourself in an argument that hasn’t taken place yet? Or cooking dinner, but in your head, you’re going over a situation that happened yesterday? Have you ever reacted to someone in a way that haunted you later, because you know it was out of anger? That’s your peace being taken away from you, and it used to happen to me all the time. Whether it was a direct report with an attitude, a manager with a conflicting agenda, or a customer seeking justification, I was giving my peace out in spades. 

The first thing I had to do was understand that the way to keep my peace has nothing to do with the people who are stealing it. 

This can be hard to come to grips with. You are probably justifying how difficult it is in your head right now, running through why they’re so difficult to work with. You probably have specific examples of times they were too stubborn, or manipulative. I know how difficult it can be, but the reality is, you are giving them the power they need in order to affect you in the way that they do, which means you are giving them more power than they actually have. It’s like a deflated balloon – it exists – but it only gets bigger if you put air into it. Recognise that every thought, word, or action that is directed towards this person is giving them air to become bigger in your life. It’s YOUR breath that’s giving them life, not theirs.  

Stop projecting.

It’s also time to confront the fact that you can’t predict the future. You can’t predict what this person will say, do, or feel tomorrow. As obvious as that may sound, it’s funny how often we still get caught up doing exactly that. Let’s say you find out a piece of information that may affect this person, so now you spend the rest of the day constructing situations in your head about what this person will say, how this person will react to this news, what might happen based on this reaction, etc. How much time have you now spent worrying about something that A. doesn’t exist (this situation you have imagined only lives in your head) and B. you can’t do anything about anyways (we can’t control other people’s reactions). By assuming you can, you’re giving more of your energy, more of your peace, into the balloon and allowing it to get bigger.

Keep your yard clean.

For analogy purposes, your yard (or garden for my english folks) is made up of your words and actions. Feelings stemming from resentment and fear are likely to rise often with this person, but if you act on them, it will only come back to haunt you later. When you need to speak to this person, check that what you’re saying is in line with the following: is it kind, is it necessary and is it true? Anything that is not in line with these fundamentals would be the product of your ego getting in the way. Our ego tends to create situations for us that seem satisfying in the now, but will hurt our character in the long run.

“If someone treats you rudely, and you respond with rudeness, you have not done anything but prove to them that they are justified in their actions. Instead, today, let’s seek to be better than the things that disappoint or hurt us. Let’s try to be the example we’d like others to follow.”

Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic 

This idea will cause us to pause before we react. It’s not always easy, but it always pays off. Living with conscious intention means you’re aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it, and you’re doing it on purpose. If you’ve ever found yourself firing off an email with a tone you regretted later, or word vomiting because you felt overwhelmed, you would benefit from learning to pause and then checking if what you have to say is kind, necessary, and true (KNT). When we are living in regret of something that we said or did, that’s more energy, more breath, more peace we’re giving away.  

Let go of your expectations. They are the root of all your heartaches. 

You may argue that there needs to be a base level of expectation in the working world, and I would agree with you, but what I believe is vital is where these expectations are rooted. For example, you may have a very reasonable expectation that your team needs to be on time, and let’s say that doesn’t happen one day. If this expectation is rooted deep in yourself, it’s likely to really hurt when it’s not lived up to. You will feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, because you’re holding the expectation so close to your heart. However, if you hold this expectation a bit further away from you, detached from you, you won’t be affected when it bursts, and the thing is – it will burst. When it does, what you can control is how you respond to it in a way that addresses the problem, if that’s what you need to do (but also ensuring that you’re keeping your yard clean, and speaking with KNT). 

There’s also the need to let go. Let go of the need to change people. You won’t. Let go of the need to control. You can’t. Let go of this idea that your life should be a certain way and everyone around you should just play their parts, what you’re doing is setting them and yourself up to fail, because they will let you down. 

Some practical tips to help you stop giving your peace away today:

  1. Use an affirmation every time you find yourself projecting:

“I hold onto my peace by staying present in this moment.”

“I cannot and will not try to predict the future. Everything will happen exactly how it should.”

“In this moment, I am (insert the task that you’re currently doing), and my peace belongs to me.” 

  1. Recognise the people that are the opposite of peace stealers – the people who love you and big you up. Make time to connect with these people every day. 
  1. Try to pause and count to three today before each interaction and think about what you’re going to say (remember – KNT). Do this especially with people who you struggle to keep your peace around. At the end of the day, note down what went well, and what didn’t go so well.

Understand that this is not something that will be easy to do all of the time. It takes practice. It takes time. It takes honesty, awareness, and goodwill. When you allow someone to affect you, it’s because you may be gripping too tightly on the idea that you can control them. Let go, and your peace will come back to you. 

Read More on The Live Well / Lead Well Blog

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

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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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.