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Leading with Passion Series - Mirrors and Leadership

by Jessica Biel, SMPS Seattle President

When talking about leadership, mirrors are a great metaphor in two ways. Ony way is using another individual as your mirror to show you the type of person you want to be. The other is seeing how others view you as a leader by their actions.

According to Business Leadership author Joan Gallos, leaders engage in Five Practice of Exemplary Leadership: (1) model the way, (2) inspire a shared vision, (3) challenge the process, (4) enable others to act, and (5) encourage the heart. Great leaders both lead by example and inspire others to do great things.

When I look around at the people I value as great leaders I see them doing these exact things. Jerry Lee, the chairman of a firm I previously worked for, is a remarkable man. He not only helped to build his company, from less than a dozen people to nearly 500, but inspires all those around him to do great things. He's an advocate of giving back to the community which has resonated in the company culture. His open door policy is truly open to any individual in the firm to sit and have a conversation. After his retirement he was not in the office as much (understandably!) but when he did come in for special events or all company meetings you saw on everyone's face the excitement and compassion they felt when he was around. A great leader has exemplary character and "walks the talk" showing trustworthiness and earning respect. Jerry Lee is a spiritual presence and inspiring soul who gives himself to others without expecting much in return. He is just one of a few mirrors I look at to improve my leadership skills in the way that he acts as a role model and inspires a heart-felt vision that others continue to act upon.

The other side of being a great leader is looking to the people around you. I use this mirror to gauge how I am progressing as a leader. Leaders make it possible for others to do good work. If the individuals that look up to me as a leader aren't successful then I'm not successful. When I look at my team and overall everyone is dedicated to their work, enjoying what they are doing, producing good work, and inspiring others then I know my leadership skills are helping them achieve that. 

Who inspires you? Or, who do you inspire?

Until next time.

Cheers, Jessica

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