2020 has been wild! Amidst a year that has, understandably, brought so many of us much sadness, frustration, and uncertainty, I am truly grateful. Grateful for the blessings that I have been so fortunate to experience. In the midst of all of that, I have learned so much! Arguably more than I ever have before, through my personal development, as well as those from my inspiring clients, loved ones, peers, and even from unexpected people and situations!
To quote Dr K on one of my favourite shows, This is Us: “I think the trick is not trying to keep the joys and the tragedies apart.”
Therefore, in embracing it all, I bring you my Top 12 Leadership lessons of 2020.
Core Lesson for authentic, confident, impactful Leadership
1. Stay in your leadership with Energy, Clarity, and Strategic Action This year, I consciously took a 3-prong approach to leadership for myself and my clients. The unexpected result was achieving something that I had been searching for throughout much of my corporate career - consistently working smarter, not harder. Irrespective of external factors. I would go further to say that I have actually been leading smarter, not working harder. The result? A significant increase in success for myself, my clients, my business, my team. Success in a way that feels effortless, satisfying, fulfilling, balanced, energising, and exciting.
The “secret”? Prioritising Energy, Clarity, and Strategic Action.
Without constructive Energy, work feels effortful and exhausting. Without Clarity, success is obscure and unfulfilling. Without Strategic Action, your achievement is elusive. Prioritise all three and watch your leadership transform to the next level.
Lessons for Leadership ENERGY
2. for success: What you choose is more powerful than any potential blocker.
“Every moment describes who you are and gives you the opportunity to decide if that’s who you want to be.” - iPEC Foundation Principles
In everything, we have a choice and that’s the starting point of all Leadership action - choice in how you show up. In 2020, I chose, over and over again to show up as the authentic, fearless, and confident leader I am. Ultimately, it is in that choice that creates leadership success:
Choice in what you focus on. "I chose to focus on the things that energise me, letting go of the things holding me back."
Choice in what you believe. "I chose to believe in the impossible and speak what I wanted into reality."
Choice in what you do. "I chose to act from a place of intuition, creativity, and integrity, doing what I want to do, not what I believe I have to, need to, or should be doing."
Choice in who you are. "I chose to be unapologetically me, living in a way where every moment is an expression of who I am."
3. for exceptionality: Your unique superpower lies in the mix of your individual strengths. 2020 was a year where I started to break down the walls between the different parts of me. I am great at compartmentalising. Many of us are. In the past, it’s helped me avoid discomfort and confusion that results from trying to make sense of conflicting values, emotions, beliefs, actions, etc. about myself. It is the reason why I initially hesitated from showing myself to the world as a coach and consultant and yoga instructor. As someone who is both emotional and analytical. As someone who can both over-deliver exceptional results to my clients and also has a balanced life. Watching so many people work from home, create new exciting businesses, and excel in the mix of their passions, skills, and values helped me dispel that myth. I am not one thing. And neither are you. Our magic, uniqueness, and exceptionalism are in the “AND”! For more: Labels Limit Leaders. Even the “Good” Ones
4. for breakthroughs: Your strengths may also be your kryptonite. My biggest breakthrough this year was recognising how my drive to be 100% all the time was actually subverting my superpowers. My coach laid it out to me: if I had a major shoulder injury, would I still push myself to do a shoulder stand? No! So why am I pushing myself to be 100% mentally on point when I’m mentally injured (e.g. from the natural exhaustion that came from 2020)? All it results in is the same as it would physically - an increased chance of serious injury and a prolonged recovery. This was profound for me. This year, I was able to easily break through barriers that were causing me unnecessary pressure, just by letting go of those "strengths": perfectionism, multi-tasking, and super(wo)man syndrome, just to name a few. For more: Say NO to Super(wo)man Syndrome & Say No To 4 Mindset “Strengths” Getting In The Way of You Hitting Your Next Level of Success)
5. for unstoppability: Fearlessness & Acceptance are a serial high-achiever's key to freedom. In the midst of a pandemic that made me fearful for the health & well-being of my loved ones, I was FEARLESS in other areas of my life. I invested more time, energy, resources, and money, than I ever have before, on both business and personal development. I reached out to and secured meetings with senior business leaders with confidence. I put myself out there on social media in a way that would have caused my slightly younger self to break out in hives. The result? Accelerated success. Enjoyment. FREEDOM! Acceptance helped me release strong barriers that historically held me back. Fearlessness propelled me into creating the business that I truly want. My only warning: it is addictive. For more: The 2 things holding you back from having the impact you want)
Lessons for Leadership CLARITY
6. for inspiration: Amazing and inspiring people are all around you - open your eyes to see them. I am so blessed in doing the work that I do because I get to see the amazingness of people every single day. One of my 2020 intentions was to see the light in others. Seeing the light in others inspired me to be greater. And being open to stepping into that light led me to create fantastic partnerships and relationships with people I would never have thought I would in the past! Beyond the bottom-line success it created, it just makes life so much better. So much so that whether it's working with inspiring clients, partnering with fantastic peers, or learning from my team, life is so much more fun. Something I do not take for granted in 2020.
7. for motivation: A clear focus on your North Star is your guide to effortless success. Despite my achievements, I haven’t always been great at setting goals in the past. When I did set goals, one of three things usually happened: either i) taking action felt like a major chore and my motivation diminished, ii) I try to bring people along but find it hard to communicate what I want;, or iii) I achieve my goal, but that feeling of fulfilled and satisfied is fleeting or non-existent.
This year, I figured out why. It is because my North Star was missing. In 2020 I was consistently clear about the two parts of my North Star: my Vision and my Purpose. Both for the big and small things. That clarity gave me motivation, effortless communication, and satisfaction! For more: Your Clarity is your North Star & Ditch Failed Resolutions, Embrace Focused “I Am” Visions
8. for creation: You create your future. You might as well create the one you want. Late 2019, I asked a fellow business owner what the secret of her recent influx of clients was and she said, seriously: ‘I manifest it. I say to the universe: “Please send me 3 more clients” and within a couple of weeks, 3 clients show up’. I was a little sceptical but I love experimenting. So as the New Year rolled in I said: “This year, I am Wendy Rhoades... minus her questionable morals” :). For the non-Billions fans out there, firstly, you are missing out. Secondly, Wendy Rhoades is a Performance Coach at a high-performing Hedge Fund. Fast forward 3 months and, without any direct marketing to Hedge Funds, the CEO of a $1.2 bn Hedge Fund reached out to me to discuss a project. I am now the Performance Coach for the CEO and his full team. My lesson: We are always manifesting our reality, whether we realise it or not. So you might as well choose to manifest the reality you truly want! For more: Start at the top and work your way down
LESSONS for STRATEGIC Leadership
9. for transformation: Time, energy, & resources invested in yourself will forever pay dividends. As a leader, I practice what I preach. This year, I practised taking my investment in myself to the next level! Investing in oneself has nothing to do with anyone else. It all comes down to you trusting yourself that you can and will deliver. Uncertainty was the name of the game this year, yet I choose to bet on myself while many scaled back.
I invested time, energy, and cash in developing myself, both personally and as a business owner. I started investing in a coach in 2019, continuing that throughout 2020 and I invested, significantly, in business accelerators to up my acceleration and scale. They were not comfortable investments. Investments that create transformations rarely are. But they were fruitful and I have no doubt that they directly resulted in the huge growth that both I and my business have experienced this year.
10. for acceleration: Create space to receive what you want and watch the answers flood in. I work hard. I have always worked hard. However, 2020 has created a major shift that has truly accelerated my success. I’ve shifted from working hard to leading smart. A significant differentiator in leading smart is creating space. Instead of trying to do all-the-things all-the-time, I prioritised the thing that enabled me to bring my invaluable skills to the forefront - SPACE. Concretely, for me that means no wake-up alarms, not starting work before 10.00, prioritising my 2-hour (!) Strategy time every Monday morning, having at least 1-hour lunch break & a 15-min break daily, and sometimes just stopping to play with lego if I seek creativity. When I prioritise my CEO-time, I see clearer, achieve more, and move faster. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it totally works and it makes sense! You can’t create amazingness in the middle of chaos. Creating space goes alongside other counteractive performance accelerators like rest, fun, meditating, slowing down, and celebrating successes. For more: Rest: Your secret strategy for exceptional performance
11. for connection: Invest in creating, nurturing, and sharing more with your Chain of Trust. This year, I have consciously invested in recognising, connecting with and nurturing my Chain of Trust, which has brought some of my most fruitful opportunities. I have always recognised and valued the importance of my direct connections. However, what I have learned this year is that the real magic and potential comes from your Chains of Trust. This is the connection between person A to B to C to D, and so on, where each individual connection knows, likes, and trusts each other. Thereby creating a strong chain that results in implicit trust between any two people across the chain, even if those two people don’t personally know each other. These Chains have led to unexpected opportunities and exponential growth for me this year.
12. for decision-making: Use your super-team of three - logic, as well as, intuition and emotions.
Would you rely on any single person to make all the decisions in your life? No? So why do you take this approach with yourself? Whether you are generally more analytical, emotional, or intuitive, we all have the ability to tap into all three parts of our super-team. I lean very much towards analytics (probably not surprising given my consulting, finance, and digital background). However, I relied on it so much, I was missing out on bringing in the data-points from emotion and intuition. Once I did, my decision-making became a lot more effective and significantly less stressful. It’s enabled me to become a more effective leader by tapping into my gut, which often knows what my head doesn’t, and using my heart to practice more empathy for myself and others.
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Yewande is the founder & CEO of OTITỌ Leadership Coaching & Consulting, where she partners with organisations, business leaders & high-achievers to help them accelerate to their next level of success. She brings the knowledge and experience she has gained as a Certified Professional Coach, McKinsey consultant and Morgan Stanley VP. Want to discuss how we can help you accelerate to your next goal? Get in touch.