People Follow People

To be a leader you need followers (no, not just on social media).

Yet, the hardest person to lead often is oneself (I think about that as a solopreneur).

Any good leader has to know themselves first — have that personal clarity I promised last week I would talk about.

Who Are You? What Matters Most to You?

I start where I started my discussion about organizational clarity — with purpose. You need to have a clear purpose. Your personal purpose will guide your leadership. Purpose starts from understanding and creating meaning from your experiences, reflecting on the impact you want to have and how you want to serve.

What drives you? Leadership is about balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Sure, the external is powerful — the status and social validation, the money and ability to buy material things, but it’s the intrinsic motivation — doing something for the enjoyment or love of the activity. Something that fills a personal goal that derives from your basic human needs. Maybe you do something because you love a challenge or you want to care for your family.

What are your values? What values support those motivations? Do you consistently practice your values? Are you aligning your behaviors, regardless of the situation, with those values? Leadership is about your actions more than your words. Do you value respect? Loyalty?

What kind of leader do you want to be? Why do you choose to lead? How do you want to lead? How do you want to empower your team? How can you serve them best — leadership is a “we” not a “me”? It’s about relationships and how you lead within that dynamic — do you coach, listen, encourage, and push people outside their comfort zones. What is working? What’s not? Here is where 360 reviews can be a valuable part of your reflection.

What is holding you back from being that leader you aspire to? What limiting beliefs or habits (poor time management practices or forgetting to engage in a little self-care) can you let go of so you can reach your highest potential?

What’s your superpower? Knowing your strengths and weakness allows you to surround yourself with the right people. How can you use your strengths in the most valuable way? I will say having moved from law to helping founders scale businesses, I feel my work is more aligned with my strengths. This role brings together the best of my experience and my talents, tapping into my zone of genius.

You should be able to answer these questions (or, at a minimum, be asking yourself these questions regularly and spending the time reflecting!)?

The Value of Clarity

Achieving greater personal clarity as a leader will positively impact your performance and that of your team. It will take you and your business to the next level of success. It will help you when you are struggling most — when you have run into obstacles, when you have plateaued, when there is conflict among team members, etc.

It builds trust. People trust those who are authentic and consistent no matter the situation. When you communicate in line with your values and tap into your purpose and passions, you genuinely connect with people and you have a greater ability to influence their actions and their lives. Acting with integrity inspires others to follow you. You may have had the erratic boss, or the one that chooses the direction that benefits him or her the most, or the one who answers to others’ expectations. You don’t trust those people.

Clarity serves as a framework for decision-making, particularly when it comes to the tough stuff, resulting in faster and more confident decisions. Clarity helps you execute on your strategies for growth, making decisions that are in line with your stated objectives and providing direction to your team.

Clarity creates focus, channeling your energy to those activities that are most beneficial to you and your business. What are your highest priorities? These will shift.

Clarity is not stagnant and the answers to many of these questions will develop, morph, and shift overtime. Not daily or monthly. Maybe you reflect yearly or do it whenever you feel out of alignment. When your reactions to situations feel misguided or all over the place. When you feel like you are begrudgingly doing what you should be doing, rather than listening to yourself. When you feel you have lost connection with your customers.

Clarity provides strength and fuels resiliency. Knowing who you are and what you stand for as a person and as a leader is powerful.

Personal clarity will help you align your personal and your professional lives more fully, bringing you more personal satisfaction and joy.

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Kate Carney

I help women entrepreneurs scale businesses. I am a business consultant and legal advisor.