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Don't out-source your ok-ness

Said Emma Reed Turrell on Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast

Zoe Fenn set up you burn bright for coaching first-time leaders in the creative industries

It's an episode I listened to a year ago, but these words are particularly striking me now I have launched my business and am coaching first-time leaders. Often there is this urge to follow a leadership script or model, and to be told by your boss or your team that you're doing great at it. And of course recognition is important and new leaders should ask for and expect ongoing feedback, but it is not the only yardstick against which you should measure how you are doing.

Far better to decide for yourself the kind of leader you want to be.

Far better to create your own success criteria – asking yourself “how will I know I am leading in this way?” “what will be happening that wasn’t happening before?”

And far better to look within yourself and highlight strengths, skills and experiences you already have that mean you will succeed as this kind of leader.

It can feel scary to do it this way. It’s natural to wonder if you’re doing it right. It feels reassuring to follow someone else’s ideas. But playing a part is pretty exhausting and sooner or later it stops working. It’s much more empowering to chart your own course and check in with yourself on that – How am I doing? What did I do today that was really consistent with the kind of leader I want to be? What one thing, if I did it, would mean I was showing up in this way?

There’s likely still a step where you engage others in this so that they can add in strengths you have overlooked and support you as you try to change some ways of working and shift into a first-time leadership role.

But I come back to the wise words of Emma Reed Tyrell – don’t outsource your ok-ness - don’t let the opinion of others be the sole measure against which you value yourself. If you don’t win a pitch, if you don’t get that promotion, if a team member leaves, there are so many factors at play and not everything will have been within your control. There may well be lessons and learnings to take away, but to link our value and our worth to such external pillars is a precarious path to go down.

I do love a question… so I’ll leave you with this one - if you cared as much or even more about how you were leading, as caring about how others thought you were leading, what would the benefit be?

If you got some value from this article then please like it, share it, comment on it etc.

If you are a first-time leader or manager in the creative industries and you want coaching support as you navigate your new role, then check our my website and get in touch

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