Lead by learning: Why great leaders don’t rely on originality

Leadership

While some consider successful leadership to be defined by originality, I beg to differ. I believe the essentials to being an outstanding leader isn’t new or outrageous ideas. Instead, here’s what you need: an open and constantly curious mind, honesty, and the willingness to learn.

Looking at impactful leaders over time, a lot of people seem to think that the characteristic trait all leaders have in common is a special sense of originality; that something that makes you go “I could have never thought of that myself”.

I like to disagree – the best leaders achieve success not because they are original geniuses, but because they hold the power to learn and be open-minded. In that sense, great leadership isn’t about “I could never have thought of that myself”. It’s about “nobody can do that alone”.

The best leaders achieve success not because they are original geniuses,
but because they hold the power to learn and be open-minded.

What looks like originality, is often a heightened sense of curiosity. I think this is the most important quality you can possess as a leader. If you’re too caught up in the concept of coming up with everything yourself, you’ll never discover all the insight and inspiration happening around you. Because it’s not about being defensive of your own ideas, it’s about being active in your learning. Of course, the person who comes up with a new idea should get credit for their creativity and innovation. But ultimately, what matters is the difference that idea can make for your team, your company, and your customers.

Being able to open yourself up to new input requires another important trait – humility. Without it, you’ll never be able to learn or discover all the potential out there. But being humble isn’t enough, you must also stay open, vulnerable, and honest.

For me, vulnerability is key. By sharing my challenges and insecurities, I connect with my colleagues in new and unexpected ways. After all, we all struggle from time to time – both personally and professionally – and there’s no point in pretending that we don’t.

What makes a great leader isn’t the ability to be perfect (which is lucky since no one is). On the contrary, it’s the ability to connect, acknowledge and mirror feelings of doubt, and then show a new path towards a common goal.

On your way to reaching your goals, you need to establish an honest line of communication. I believe leadership is not a place for secrets or sugarcoating. Instead, I prefer straight talk. This way my colleagues know I have their back, and we avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

By trusting that honesty goes a long way, I hope the people around me feel better informed and more aligned. Because I do believe it’s very important to keep everyone on the same page. There should be no special rules for certain colleagues, no rumors or whispering in corners. Instead, there should be is transparency, common goals and clear expectations.

As I hope you can tell by now, I don’t think leadership is just a walk in the park. In fact, it’s not for everyone. However, it is still a very challenging, character building and rewarding career. Because it allows you to work with some of the strangest and most intriguing aspects of the human experience: collaboration, change, and inspiration just to name a few. If you find that thrilling and if you dare to lean in and learn, it could be the job for you.

Leadership allows you to work with some of the strangest and most intriguing aspects of the human experience:
collaboration, change, and inspiration.

Personally, I am so happy that my path has led me to leadership as the CRO of SuperOffice. Here I have found an extraordinary starting point and exciting opportunities for acceleration. This is a place of legacy and brand-new ideas, of experienced, loyal colleagues and newly on-boarded talent. As their CRO, it’s my job to lead them. Show them a way forward. Listen to their doubts and differences. And learn from everything they can teach me.

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