How To Be A Successful Leader: Perspectives from Leadercast 2014

Last week some of our Full Media team members had the opportunity to attend Leadercast’s annual conference. Devoted to “building leaders worth following,” this year’s conference focused on Beyond You leadership, which embodies the idea that successful leaders center their career and lives on serving others and recognizing that their role as a leader is to inspire and invest in new leaders.

As a young professional and a developing leader, I will be the first one to admit that I lose focus on the core purpose of leadership from time to time. When work is piling up and expectations are running high, it is easy to become stressed with others for demanding a portion of your limited time. When you are trying to prove yourself in a new environment or move up the leadership ladder, it can be difficult to humbly accept advice and share credit for success. I often look back on some of the missteps I have made as a leader and wish I had confronted a difficult situation with humor and candor instead of stress and distrust.

I left Leadercast with a number of takeaways to reflect on daily in my continued growth as a leader. This year’s Leadercast featured some amazing speakers, including human rights advocate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, former First Lady Laura Bush and other accomplished leaders. There was too much wisdom to share in a simple blog post, but here are five practical pieces of advice from the amazing Leadercast speakers you can incorporate now:

  1. Empty your cup. Being a leader does not mean being the best or most knowledgeable at everything, but you do have some level of expertise. Your goal should be to pour everything you know into your teammates without holding anything back. Hording knowledge out of fear that you will make yourself redundant or train your own replacement is not good leadership. Your goal should be to selflessly empty your cup.


  1. Give control to someone else. Nelson Mandela said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur…. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” The more often you can say “you decide” or “what can I do to help?” the better! Empowering your teammates to make decisions and take on responsibility will help them develop new skills and become leaders.


  1. Be respectful. If your teammate makes a suggestion or expresses an opinion, it does not matter if it is the most ridiculous suggestion you have ever heard, how you choose to express yourself determines the quality of your leadership. Your team has to feel that they are being heard and understood, so exercise your authority and express your opinion as a leader with respect.


  1. Be a leader now. Even if you do not manage staff in your position at work or you work an entry-level position, you do have an opportunity to be a leader now and pass along what you know. There is someone out there who could benefit from your mentorship and experience who is probably looking for the right person to show interest.


  1. Maintain a sense of humor. You cannot be a selfless leader without positivity. Keeping your sense of humor in tough times can help you and your entire team deal with stressful situations with more confidence and grace. Breaking out of a serious situation with a moment of humor also puts things in perspective, allowing you to reflect back on what is important and regain your sense of mindful leadership. And if you’re having a difficult time, just listen to Nobel-Laureate Desmond Tutu’s manic giggle – it’s delightful and contagious.

I am lucky to work for a company where everyone is thought of as a leader and held to that standard of Beyond You leadership. At Full Media, we foster a culture where each member of our team feels responsible for the success of our company. Our core focus is to impact our world positively by taking a conscientious approach in the impact that we have in the lives of our fellow teammates, our clients and those friends and family we have outside of work.

Given the busy lives we all lead, a thoughtfulness and immense patience and compassion for others and yourself is the only way to make it through.