Professional Development Career Management Leadership

What Does It Mean To Be A Leader?

By Zac Novak on September, 23 2021
leader looking out window

At RevV we care deeply about leadership. This blog is the result of a facilitated discussion with leadership experts Lin Coughlin, Joe Marques, and Samantha Yarwood exploring what it means to be a leader.


Why do we care about leadership at Revv? We are all about helping people reach their potential. Did you know that 69% of Millennials feel that there is a lack of leadership development in the workplace? This leaves an incredible opportunity to help rising professionals become better leaders. Developing leadership skills earlier on in a career will enable more people to realize their full potential.


What is leadership?

Leadership is one of those words where if you ask 100 different people the definition you might get 100 different answers. Instead of defining leadership, we asked Lin, Joe, and Samantha to share their stories and perspectives. They all agreed that the conversation exceeded their expectations with some vulnerable story sharing, diversity of thought, and laughter along the way.


It all starts with knowing yourself

“As a leader, everything is so complex, if you don’t know yourself, and aren’t able to guide yourself, how can you guide others?” Sam thoughtfully shared with the group.


Often when we think of Leadership, we think of a leader’s impact on others or organizations. They are responsible for helping others be most successful. Yet, without self-awareness, it is incredibly difficult to effectively use our strengths to help others. It all starts with understanding your strengths and using them in ways that are most fulfilling.


Storytelling is an effective tool to self-discovery

“When understanding ourselves, our stories are what really shape us," Sam explained.


We gain greater insight and self-awareness by reflecting on our stories and experiences. Starting with our childhood, upbringing, and early careers we can uncover what shaped our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This is often the source of our leadership successes... or struggles. We call this the narrative experience the Balcony Story which is a key component to our Work Life Journey experience.


Understanding yourself takes time 

“It was after many years as a corporate leader that I took enough time to reflect. It was only when I took the time that I truly understood my three or four greatest strengths and how I could leverage them for the greatest impact," Lin shared.


As leaders, we often get so busy trying to deliver results, we don’t take the time to explore and know ourselves. Taking the time and space to reflect, we understand our authentic selves and the value and impact we can have in our work and life. At RevV we believe understanding our values, traits, style, and skills provides insight to the foundation of who we are as leaders.


Be clear about your purpose

“Since then, I think I have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out my purpose and resolving to actualize it. It’s an ongoing journey!” – Lin stated, “I am getting closer to my purpose every day!”, Sam added.


At RevV purpose is central to everything we do, and we have found the strongest leaders tend to be purpose-driven. Why? Purpose represents what is meaningful to us. If our work has meaning, we will be fulfilled; and fulfillment is a critical human need.


Be mindful about purpose

“I have a monthly reminder on my phone that says, ‘Does my life have purpose and meaning? Am I fulfilled and happy?’” Joe shared. He uses this to revisit his purpose and progress every month since he’s learned that complacency is the enemy of growth.


Without being mindful about our purpose, we can go into autopilot. Purpose is not a destination but a journey. It is the guiding light that allows us to overcome obstacles and empowers us to be high-impact leaders.


Evolve your leadership mindset

“Managing is about doing. Leadership is about being and doing, but much more about being.” Lin shared.  Sam responded, “Remember what you did to get here, won’t get you there.”


People get promoted because they are good at getting things done and moving things forward. Leading is not about the leader getting things done, it’s about enabling and empowering people to have an impact. This is a mindset shift many new leaders are slow to master. RevV has the tools and resources to ease this transition.


A plan for growth

“Every year, I would kick off the strategic planning process for my company, make a plan on what we want to do, what we want to do different, define the strategic priorities and map out our activities, then I asked – why don’t I do this for myself?” Sam shared.


Don’t forget to create a plan for personal development, focused on bringing your purpose to life. Without a plan, our purpose is simply a wish. We help you take action, so you achieve what matters most in work and life.


Vulnerability is the key to connection

“Authenticity is knowing yourself, vulnerability is the courage to share your true self.” – Joe Marques shared, “I love that, I am going to steal that, Joe!” Sam exclaimed.


Being vulnerable allows us to show our true selves to our colleagues. It allows us to connect and relate on a higher level. It builds trust, increases empathy, and improves communication. Finding the courage to be vulnerable and get the most out of your personal and professional relationships is something we focus on in our development programs here at RevV.


At the end of the day, it is all about making a difference

“Leading is about enabling a team to exceed their own expectations and that of key stakeholders in support of the accomplishment of strategic priorities.” Lin Coughlin


At the end of the day, the greatest leaders inspire the greatest change. Empowering and inspiring a collective to make a positive difference in the world.


Join us in our next blog, where we talk about tactical advice for younger professionals enabling them to become leaders.


What do you think it means to be a leader? 

Join the conversation on LinkedIn!




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