Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader

herminiaibarrabroadminded

South Kensington Club, London. November 15th, 2017

We’d seen Herminia Ibarra speak before, so knew she was going to be an inspiration for the BroadMinded audience. Herminia’s presentation and discussion were very thought-provoking for ourselves as we look at our own careers. Making the transition to leadership is a challenge for everyone, but with the many added headwinds of being a woman at work, we sometimes need help in thinking how to get to positions of leadership, and how to be successful in both the process and on arrival. Plenty of food for thought from the evening, but as always we’ve pulled together our main takeaways for you all

  • ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’ – the conversation stops being just about whether you have the technical skills, but about whether you can use your skills and experience to enact change
  • Content is important, but equally so is the way you deliver it. Some of the most successful leaders and speakers are those that can make an audience laugh and engage with the content, not just deliver the facts
  • Do the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t keep staying up all night, learning every detail, hoping that by working hard your colleagues or bosses will notice. By doing the same thing, you’ll continue to get the same response
  • The often-taught self-reflection model of ‘think, then do’ isn’t always right.  Sometimes start with the do – test new things, try something different, and learn from the response and success of each. Occasionally feeling deeply uncomfortable in the process is not necessarily a bad thing
  • Leadership almost always requires taking risks in yourself, as well as in your role
  • Signal an interest in leadership in your company, don’t just assume your bosses know that’s where you want to go

Notes from Herminia’s recently published book ‘How to Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader’

  1. Redefine your job
    • The biggest tool to reinvent yourself, to exploit what you do well and explore new things
    • Avoid competency traps (concentrating on tasks and work that you’ve become highly experienced and skilled in, that won’t get you to the job you want). To avoid this, position your job in a way that connects your team and work with other teams in and/or out of your organization. Become an ‘importer / exporter’
  2. Extend your network
    • A good network is critical for effectiveness
    • Fight against your tribal tendency to network with people like you. You need diversity in your network. And fight the feeling that networking is a ‘dirty’ activity!
    • Network up, network down, network across. The value of a network can come from various places and levels.
  3. Be more playful with your sense of self
    • It’s who you are as a person and character that inspires others
    • Being ‘authentic’ can trap you into never getting out of your comfort zone.  There may be a conflict between ‘being myself’ and doing what I need to do to get ahead
    • Learn to be inconsistent at times in order to learn. Who and what you’ve been in your career to date may be different from who you’ll be in the future, and as a leader.
    • Act your way into a new way of thinking, rather than think your way into a new way of acting
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