The Art of Leadership – Learning and Reflections

Written by Milla Zaenker

The morning of October 26 was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the air was crisp and clear. I was very excited to be going to the Art of Leadership conference for the first time. This is what I learned from each leader and would like to share with you:

Welby Altidor on Creativity and Collaboration

  • A leader’s role is to create the most fertile soil where people can grow
  • Successful leaders set one “beautiful and impossible” objective per quarter and strive to achieve it
  • Great leaders map out people’s ‘superpowers’ before engaging in a project
  • Don’t confuse authority and influence
  • To practice creative courage – face the unknown and accept that you don’t know
  • Seven stages to transforming our work:
    1. Care first
    2. Secure safety
    3. Foster trust
    4. Play with danger and limitations
    5. Dream
    6. Discover breakthrough
    7. Grow

Vince Molinaro on Engagement and Accountability

  • Leadership is a decision – You must rise to new standards of behaviour, and be the role model
  • If you want to be liked you need to rethink what it means to be a true leader
  • Don’t be a bystander and wait for things to improve, do what is necessary for your organization to succeed
  • The culture of a company is stronger than any individual and it’s hard to change
  • Build a sense of community with your colleague leaders

Dr. Tasha Eurich on Self-Awareness and Performance

  • Understand internal and external self-awareness
    • Internal – seeing yourself clearly
    • External – knowing how others see you
  • Ask What, not Why: Instead of “why can’t I get along with my boss?” ask “what can I do differently to have a productive, healthy working relationship with my boss?”
  • Make a daily commitment to receive feedback from your “loving critics”: those who will give you honest and objective feedback, and have your best interests at heart
  • Ask two powerful questions:
    • What am I doing that makes me successful/respectful in your eyes?
    • What are the most annoying things that I am doing?
  • Don’t defend, but listen and ask questions to understand

Amanda Lang on Innovation and Change

  • An environment for innovation answers the questions “why” and “why not”
  • Something has to change for it to be innovative; otherwise, it’s a good idea that dies
  • How you think is who you are
  • When brainstorming, find people who are slightly irritating – it will lead to great ideas
  • Practice gratitude, share one good thing that happened to you today. If we focus on the good we won’t notice the bad
  • You cannot buy passion, creativity, and trust – we do it only when we are engaged

Joe Biden on Leadership  

  • Leadership is about putting yourself in other’s shoes, thinking about what their challenges and barriers could be, sharing loses and not just successes
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter then you are, use their strengths and talents.
  • Never confuse academic credentials with sound judgement
  • Leaders don’t always have all the facts, but they use good judgement, experience, and understand the risks when making a decision
  • Leaders attribute success to their team when things go well and own the blame for the not so successful consequences
  • Leadership means putting principles before career
  • Real leaders are happy and successful — For Joe Biden happiness means three things:
    1. Having something to do
    2. Having someone to love
    3. Having something to look forward to
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