While it’s easy to co-mingle the term leader and boss, leadership isn’t about a title; it’s about a mindset.
Leadership is a lot more about the qualities that one has, rather than the title one holds.
And if we know anything about leadership, it’s that we’ve gotten a crash course in what it looks like thanks to a global pandemic.
Great leaders are forward-thinking, adaptable, strong-willed, understanding, empowering, inspiring, kind, empathetic... we could go on and on. In other words, everyone defines what makes a leader differently. In fact, we bet that if you were to ask 10 people for their top three words to define a strong leader, you’d hear 10 different sets of answers.
That’s why we invited one of the most genuine people, and strongest leaders, that we’ve ever met to dive deep into the topic of leadership, Bella Vasta.
Bella Vasta is the dynamic personality behind the one-woman coaching company, Jump Consulting. Since 2002, Bella has been a trailblazer in the pet industry consulting with multi-million dollar companies to hundreds of small businesses. She is an author, podcast host, blogger, and has been featured on NBC, CBS, FOX, NPR, Entrepreneur Magazine, Social Media Examiner, and Huffington Post. After the birth of her 12 oz micro-preemie daughter, Bella sold her pet sitting business and now lives out her passion to inspire, motivate, and challenge business owners through her speaking, coaching, and consulting.
What Makes For A Great Leader:
While everyone truly sees leadership differently, there is a multitude of things that make for a great leader.
While there are so many key qualities, we decided to do a deep dive into the six we believe are some of the most important.
Every great leader has a vision for where they are going. They have goals established.
Without goals and/or a vision, you’re basically a headless chicken running around. You need to have a roadmap in place so you know how to take the actions that will get you where you’re looking to go.
Without a direction, you won’t be able to gain buy-in from anyone, therefore you really aren’t leading anyone.
Leaders understand that it is critical to be able to communicate and articulate where you’re going with a team because that is how momentum is created.
Great leaders have empathy and are understanding.
While it’s easy to lead when things are going well, the real test of a leader is how they show up when something goes wrong.
Strong leaders get curious, instead of angry when mistakes are made or when there is a ball dropped. They recognize the failure as an opportunity to turn inward and examine how they played a role in that issue.
When something goes wrong, a strong and empathetic leader will ask themselves these four questions:
- What could I have done differently to set this person up for success?
- What role did I play in this?
- What could I have done to have made this better?
- How can I encourage this person more?
If we want to become better leaders, we need to ask more questions and get curious.
“I’m curious, tell me why you chose to perform this task as you did? is a great question to ask an employee. That is the kind of language that encourages a dialogue that leads to development and understanding. Not to mention, problem-solving and support!
By getting curious and taking a look at ourselves, we actively strengthen our leadership skills.
Great leaders all have a high degree of self-awareness and an ability to see themselves - their strengths and weaknesses.
It is that self-awareness that allows strong leaders to tap into the bigger picture and recognize that above all else, the goal should always be to move forward as a united team that feels engaged and connected.
The best leaders always operate from a place of trying to develop understanding and solving problems.
The focus should be placed on where we want to go, it's not about who's right. Instead of WHO is right, it’s about doing WHAT is right in order to move forward. That kind of attitude keeps people feeling like they’re on the same team.
If you create a culture of fear by shaming or punishing people for making mistakes, they’ll never come to you with their pain points or problems. That obliterates trust, not to mention disempowers the people you actually WANT to lift up!
Great leaders want people to feel empowered, not fearful when making decisions in their roles.
Accountability and Vulnerability:
Strong leaders display both accountability and vulnerability. We group them together because they are so intertwined when it comes to leadership.
The reason being that great leaders are accountable and willing to admit when they make a mistake and share their shortcomings, and in doing so, display their vulnerability.
By being willing to say that you are wrong or being open to receiving constructive feedback, you help to build trust and create a culture where it’s safe to make mistakes, learn and grow. By admitting your shortcomings as a leader, you help to empower your team because it shows them you truly need them!
There is a definite art to being vulnerable while still being professional as a leader. You don’t want to think of your team as therapists and engage in emotional dumping.
There’s a huge difference between being a leader and taking responsibility by saying “here is how I messed up and this is how I’m going to fix it,” vs. unraveling to them about everything.
While it’s a definite gray area and up to each individual to find the balance between sharing and oversharing, the important thing to recognize is that the focus is always on empowerment and mutual understanding.
Why Personal Development Is Critical:
Personal development is central to becoming a leader because it’s the act of taking leadership over ourselves!
We take leadership over ourselves by feeding our minds!
By investing in personal development and listening to empowering podcasts vs. that same pop radio hit we’ve heard 30 times, we fuel our brains.
Bella likes to look at leadership in three areas: yourself, your interpersonal relationships, and your community - aka your business. When you invest in developing yourselves, you will see every single area of your lives - especially these three - get stronger.
This is actually exactly why personal development is critical!
The strongest leaders are willing to not just invest in development in themselves, but their team as well!
“Being a leader is probably the most important responsibility because as much as you have to cast your own vision, you also have to understand what each person uniquely needs and wants.” @bellas_pets (click to tweet)
Leaders that become more aware of their own needs, strengths, and weaknesses AND those of their team have an advantage because they can customize their approach when dealing with various teammates, clients, friends, family members, you name it.
This is how great leaders create buy-in; they take the time to be intentional and use what they know about the people they care about so that they can communicate effectively.
It’s not about leading in the way YOU prefer, it’s leading in the way you know will be effective given the circumstances and individuals.
You can learn so much in the quest to become a great leader because that journey is truly all about developing yourself FOR yourself and for the people that you care to lead.
Great leaders understand the beautiful thing that happens with personal development because in developing yourselves, you discover what you don’t know. This allows you to be able to create the right team you need; and by investing in THEIR development, you truly invest in the greatness of the entire group as a whole!
Where To Get Started:
In order to start strengthening your leadership skills, you have to turn inward.
Our biggest recommendation for how to become a better leader is to perform a life audit.
Seriously, take a look at everything you’re doing >> the shows that you’re watching, the podcasts you’re listening to, the social media content you’re engaging with, the food you’re eating, the people you’re hanging out with.
This is so important because we ARE what we consume. If you want to become better and stronger leaders, it starts from the inside out.
You have to actively train your newsfeed by engaging with content that uplifts. You have to feed your brains with good information and surround yourselves with amazing people!
We ARE the company we keep, and great leaders understand the power of their inner circle.
“Look at who you surround yourself with. Do they feel good to be around? Leadership is about creating that community that uplifts you, holds you accountable, and enriches your life.” @jessikaphillips (click to tweet)
It starts with yourself. You have to take action first. THAT is what a leader does. It all starts from the inside out; what you feed our brains with, and who you surround yourselves with, can make or break your lives and businesses.
“Figure out how you can surround yourself with things you want to emulate. Affirmations, positive sayings, motivational quotes, because that truly seeps into your brain!” @bellas_pets (click to tweet)
In order to be a great leader, we have to be intentional and awake.
And we think following Bella is just ONE way to start to awaken yourself to your potential.
What do you think? Who inspires you as a leader? We’d love to invite them onto Magnet Marketers as a guest, so let us know!