Leadership lessons for young professionals (and us all)
Identify the values that will anchor your mission. Make connections between your world and others. Create a community featuring a large table where people can come together and share ideas. These are some of the many takeaways from a recent webinar featuring Mary Skelton Roberts, Co-director of Climate at the Barr Foundation, that was hosted by Jayda Leder-Luis, Denterlein Account Director and a graduate of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Boston Future Leaders program.
The conversation explored leadership in Boston: How do you create space for others to be front and center in decision-making processes? How can others become more deeply woven into the fabric of society while also enriching and enlivening their communities? And how do you ensure that no one is left behind? The discussion covered many topics, some of which we’ve broken down below. Be sure to follow us on social media for future leadership conversations. Missed this conversation? Watch here!
Know your values and what drives you.
Values become anchors of your leadership, so it’s important to understand what you value in order to determine the best path forward for promoting those standards and rallying others behind a cause. There does not need to be a limit on what is valuable to you, but these ethics should be consistent in your personal and professional life.
What is your North Star? Understand what brings you joy and find a group that supports and promotes that topic. If a group doesn’t already exist, create one! Its very likely other people share your values, are looking to find community, and would enthusiastically support your cause.
Wise Words from Mary Skelton Roberts: Values become anchors of your leadership.
Don’t exclude yourself.
Many young professionals aren’t sure they have what it takes to be a leader, but that type of thinking is excluding yourself before potential opportunities even present themselves. We all must combat imposter syndrome. If you exclude yourself, you don’t give yourself a chance to be considered. So, first, don’t withdraw from your potential. Next, tap into networks and find people that share your values who will champion for your cause.
Making these connections between your world and others will grow the network of supports, and they will look to you as the one who facilitated these connections. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask – ask questions, ask for favors, and ask if you can help. We are all in this together and must learn from one another.
Wise Words from Mary Skelton Roberts: For every one person who wants to block your path, two people (at least!) will want to help you move ahead.
Lifelong-learners know they don’t have all the answers.
Both Mary and Jayda agree: Leaders aren’t born, they’re developed. Leadership is a muscle that needs to be exercised, so practice makes perfect in the early stages of management and throughout your career or personal endeavors. Other skills of in support of developing and refining leadership skills include being an active and thoughtful listener, collaborating with your network, leveraging passions, and creating the right space for people to convene and come together in service of shared goals. But most importantly, leadership takes humility. You must admit that you don’t have all the answers and lean on your networks to help you fill in the gaps.
Wise Words from Mary Skelton Roberts: Find things that make you passionate, excited, or really angry!
When you cannot overcome barriers, decide what is best for you.
All great leaders will encounter a time when they cannot overcome an obstacle - that can be troubling for young professionals who are not used to failure. Mary reassured everyone that “nobody has a clean slate” and “we’ve all made mistakes” in the past. It is important for leaders to give themselves and others the grace and space to learn from mistakes while becoming better from them.
Preserve relationships, lean on them and learn from them. Maintain your values and stay focused on your goals. Sometimes that means moving on from those excluding or disagreeing with you, other times it means forming your own coalition of willing participants. Whatever the barrier, don’t let the process distract you from being guided by your North Star.
Wise Words from Mary Skelton Roberts: A good idea at the wrong time won’t go very far.