Ongoing learning…just as important for leaders

- July 2023

A reflection on leadership and the importance of ongoing learning.

Throughout my first month as a Partner at Parbery I have been reflecting on the firm, the leadership team and the people I work with. For the partnership announcement on LinkedIn I wrote that I was privileged to be working with such amazing and diverse people, and since then I have been thinking about what that means and how I can help my team be their best self; I have been thinking about leadership and what it means to lead a high performing team vs a new consultant, a person struggling, a person ready for their next challenge or a person who needs to reach goals.

We will never be the leader we want to be and strive to be, and I think that is probably a good thing. Being or thinking we are the perfect leader, the perfect mentor, the perfect peer…means we are not reflecting on our own actions and the different people we work with. It is important to not be complacent. It is important to want to learn and acknowledge that we always need to keep learning. It is important to understand that everyone has something to teach us, and that everyone brings a different approach and diversity of thinking. The richness of our environment is only as rich as we are open to seeing and seeking.

After getting all ‘Doogie Howser at the end of the episode’ I realised that the people I work with challenge me to be a better person and a better leader; for myself and for them.

There are heaps of ‘qualities of a leader’ if you search for them, but here are just some of the things I think are important to consider when you are thinking about your leadership style and being a better leader.

Leadership is something you need to work on

Todays leader is not necessarily going to be tomorrows leader unless you learn and grow. ‘Good’ or ‘what is good’ changes because people change. Pick one or two things to work on and improve and make that a focus, then pick the next thing.

Find a good leader…and another one…and another one…and learn from them

I am lucky to have worked with great leaders. I have also worked with some terrible leaders and as a result I know what bad looks like and what not to do. Each great leader does not lead in exactly the same way.

Find out what works for you and the people you are leading. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, so work to and with the people you are leading and I guarantee you will learn something from them too.

Listen to your team

They have great ideas, often the best ideas. If you don’t think they are saying anything, listen with openness and authenticity and you will hear what they are trying to say. Your team will know if you are actually listening, and they will know if you are asking questions because you actually want to hear what they have to say.

Have their back

Support your team…that’s it really. Things can and will go wrong; mistakes can and will be made. But the way you deal with it and support your team in the good and tough times is critical – Have their back.

Never ever ever take credit for something you did not do

If you know whose idea it was, or whose work it is, acknowledge them and celebrate them. If you don’t know who it was, make sure people know there is someone who did something great but it was not you. And not being clear that it wasn’t you is the same as taking credit for it…people will assume it was yours if you don’t tell them.

This is one of the quickest ways to lose trust and credibility with your team.

Be transparent unless there is a reason not to be, not the other way around

Your team will know if you are keeping information to yourself to maintain power or control. There is no reason to keep all information away from people and only allow them some of it. And if they have access to all the information, ideas can flow from a place of knowledge and the outcome of that can be amazing.

Give autonomy and agency

No one wants to have to ask permission for every little thing. Do not be a roadblock just to hold on to power or control.

There are so many more leadership qualities and things a leader should do, and a short article could never cover them all; Much of this comes down to openness, transparency, authenticity and continuing to grow and learn.

I have been in leadership positions for most of my career and as a newly minted Partner I am excited to approach new challenges, including leadership challenges, with a great team, a great support network, and a great fellow partnership group.

Annette Watson, Partner