In this fast-changing and highly competitive world, one key to short cutting your way to success is to find yourself a great mentor. Someone who has led, or continues to lead your profession, your area of expertise, or perhaps just the people in your office. Someone who makes decisions that change not just the way we work or live, but the way we think and feel. Mentors like this are true leaders.
Yesterday’s leaders were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Today’s leaders include Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), Aung San Suu Kyi (Leader, National League for Democracy), John Oliver (Host and Executive Producer, Last Week Tonight), Rosie Batty (founder, Luke Batty Foundation), Tim Cook (CEO, Apple), Christine Legarde (managing director, IMF).
Today’s leaders may not yet be household names (hence why I have included some context), but I do wonder if some day their names will have the same widespread reach and impact as those I mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph. I hope so.
What makes a great leader? In his book, Humanise: why human-centred leadership is the key to the 21st century, Anthony Howard examines the concept of ‘moral leadership’: leadership that puts people first, rather than balance sheets; leaders who, through their actions, enable others around them to become the best versions of themselves, creating environments where that can happen.
Echoing Anthony Howard’s words, I once heard a statement about leadership that has stuck with me: leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. As the strata sector enters a period of important and rapid change, it is vital that we recognise that we are now on the path to creating these leaders.
We had better get the job done properly.
As women in particular, I can’t help but feel that our task is somehow more urgent, the stakes just that little bit higher. Here is our chance to create a professional space that includes and values us. That recognises the unique experiences and attributes that we bring to the table. A space where we are not overlooked, overworked or undercut. In my experience, the spaces that often do that best are those led by women.
So look around you, look at the young women you are working with, working for, and who are working for you. Are these tomorrow’s leaders? How are they shaping up?
Now look in the mirror. Are you today’s leader? In one way or another, to someone, yes you are. What steps are you taking today to develop the kind of human-centered leaders we will be proud of tomorrow?