After all these years working with female leaders around the world, from different organizations, industries and cultures, I learned that there is a common denominator, in spite of all the differences and special traits. This denominator made me re-think and recognize a new paradigm regarding what it takes to be a leader in capital letters.
Above all, a good leader can listen. When you accept a leadership role, whether in a social organization, a business or a community project, it is vital to deeply understand your environment. You need to ask questions and listen to all those around you who walk with you to achieve your goals. You need to understand who they are, what they need, what makes them tick, what motivates them. Everyone has a deep desire to be heard, and real leaders acknowledge that and satisfy that need. True leaders, women and men, are able to find sustainable solutions precisely because they have a true understanding and connection with the people and the community.
A good leader shares the power. Quoting Alyse Nelson, “leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum!” When we were discussing empowerment, I said that the most effective leaders share one common belief: “power expands as we share it.” If you lead on your own or just for yourself, you will certainly get nowhere. Quite the contrary, take advantage of your leadership position to empower others and make them shine. In this way, your impact will dramatically multiply, as will the impact of others. Networks of women act as accelerators of their leadership. Let’s adopt it as a universal truth. It is a fact: with access to circles of influence, women are in an infinitely better position to recognize the change and occupy roles of leadership.
A good leader finds mentors and also becomes a mentor. Another universal truth that we should adopt is that mentoring promotes leadership. Without doubt, the mentors who chose to invest in me helped me navigate my own journey. The mentor is not someone who gives you a hand just to take you one step further. It is someone who stays standing behind you whether you win or lose; it’s an alliance. A good mentor celebrates your accomplishments, but a better one encourages you to Journal of a learn from your mistakes. I strongly advise you to look for mentors within your circles but also outside your normal environment. Find mentors with whom you can make a partnership or alliance while you develop your leadership.
However, I would like to emphasize that the most important outcome is that you eventually become a mentor yourself! Share your wisdom, your contacts, your talents and abilities. Start a beneficial chain reaction, so that women play more important roles in society and there is a fairer and more equitable world for all. According to the study by Catalyst, in 2012, 65% of the women who had been mentored became mentors themselves.
Leadership involves daily practice. It is a decision we make. There is no perfect time or chance to start leading. You do not “arrive” to a place to lead. You lead from the place in which you are. Leadership is not a final destination, as I have already said, but a journey, a process, a lifestyle choice.
We must be open and willing to accept and understand that developing our leadership style is a continuous process of learning and evolving. Specially, being an emerging leader, you have the ability and responsibility to lead with meaning and to leave a legacy.
“EXERPT FROM THE BOOK “A VITAL WOMAN’S JOURNAL, EMPOWERMENT, LEADERSHIP AND MENTORING FOR YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL EVOLUTION” BY MARIA GABRIELA HOCH (BOOK AVAILABLE IN AMAZON IN SPANISH )