On leadership

I think humanity is finally falling back into place. I think it is finally taking baby steps towards itself, towards its own collective soul and I am so grateful that voices around us, the ones that others listen to, are pushing us to look back within, instead of always outward, into our pockets, garages or portfolios of work. I am especially excited by the uncovering of the real definition of leadership.

“Leadership is volunteering at the local school, speaking encouraging words to a friend, and holding the hand of a dying parent. It’s tying dirty shoelaces and going to therapy and saying to our families and friends: No. We don’t do unkindness here. It’s signing up to run for the school board and it’s driving that single mom’s kid home from practice and it’s creating boundaries that prove to the world that you value yourself. Leadership is taking care of yourself and empowering others to do the same.” 
― Abby Wambach, WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game

When I was a teenager, growing up in a communist country, and several years after the overt communists were overthrown by their more dangerous counterparts, sheep in wolves’ skins, communists masked as democrats, being a “leader” meant being superior. Knowing it all, not allowing any contradictions, barking orders, disposing of people and treating people as commodities. Before working for my current organisation, I was employed by a company “leader” who felt it as a personal affront for me to not take my cellphone into the bathroom. What if he needed me right that moment? This person found it ok to yell, throw objects at people displeasing him, manipulate and threaten, considering that a good paycheck and a car always fix everything. It was a great lesson for me in understanding that nothing in the world represents a good bargain for my mental health and self worth. It took me several breakdowns, years of therapy hours and personal discoveries to unravel what the few months slaving for this person did to me and how it left a mark on my psyche.

Being an intense person, prone to explosions and gut reactions myself, I realise nowadays that this experience was in my life for a reason (as all of our experiences really are). I lead a team of 9 now and knowing what it feels to be demeaned, yelled at and unsupported pushes me to always want to be different. Everybody who is anybody in business realises that there is nothing more important than the people in their team. That a good leader can be seen in the way she gives of herself, not in the way she takes from others.

Leadership has been the topic of my week. Sitting across the table from a team of people defining themselves as leaders and wondering how each see themselves in this capacity, being inspired by listening to the genius of Simon Sinek on why Leaders Eat Last, meeting with my team as a leader to evaluate, give feedback and share tough decisions.

While I know that many will argue differently, I am convinced that if the leadership process does not break your heart open every day, keep you up at night thinking about how to support your people, if it does not challenge your humaneness and your ideas around life, you are anything else but a leader.

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