Sponsored by The Limited
The stereotypical image of a leader is an overly ambitious bald, white male—until now. Last month, we teamed up with The Limited to redefine the look of leadership in America. In addition to some competitive shopping for The Limited’s latest collection (many items sold out!), over eighty Atlanta-area women gathered to witness a panel discussion on the key trait of successful leaders: an uninhibited willingness to give back.
Levo’s very own Chief Leadership Officer, Tiffany Dufu—a model in The Limited’s New Look of Leadership ad campaign—moderated a revealing conversation with dynamic and diverse leaders: Alyson Hoag, Founder/CEO of Authentic Beauty, Jacqueline Twillie, Millennial career coach and author, as well as Molly Fletcher, sports Agent, author, and CEO. While so many of the anecdotes were amen-worthy, we picked five that truly inspired us to not only re-evaluate what a leader is, but to also realize that we see leaders every time we look in the mirror. Brown, curvy, curly-haired, I am a leader. In all of your fierceness, you, too, are a leader. Here’s why!
1. Leadership is a way of life, not just an accessory.
In addition to impeccable style and a head-to-toe take-charge look, a true leader “means emulating excellence and eliminating excuses in every single thing that you do,” Twillie said. “When you live by that philosophy, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, you will always be a leader of the pack.” Sports agent Molly Fletcher agrees. “Leadership is about truly being fearless,” she shared. “It is about creating a platform for others to trade fear for so many other positive emotions, that really allow us to wake up and be our very best selves.”
2. Leadership doesn’t come with age, it comes with confidence.
The clichéd adage is very true: leaders are born, not made. That means that you can be fresh out of college and lead, or be mid-career and take the reins, too. During the panel, Fletcher shared her defining moment when she stepped into her power as a leader. “For me, it was at 21 years old, I walked into a gentleman’s office who owned a sports agency, and I pushed my crisp, perfectly done resume across the office desk,” she remembers. “I was all ready to go and he takes my resume, crumples it up, and throws it into the trash can. He looks at me and he says ‘Who are you and what do you want to do?’ It was a moment when I truly had to be my authentic self, answer from my heart, and really speak to the truth of what I wanted to do. And he hired me and gave me a platform and an opportunity to pursue a dream. He certainly gave back to me in that way and created a platform that I am forever grateful for.”
3. Leaders know how to work hard and work smart.
After having three children in twelve months, Molly Fletcher was burnt out and she knew she was overdue for a recalibration. “Balance is really a byproduct of clarity,” she realized. Sure, the emails were coming in at a rapid speed and every one of them felt urgent, but there was only 24 hours in a day, and her children couldn’t simply be put on hold. That’s when she knew she had to prioritize. “My thing is getting really clear on what matters to you and then determining what do you want to say yes to and what do you want to say no to. Then stay disciplined enough to say no, and then we can say yes to what we really want to be doing, a byproduct of that is balance.”
[Related: 6 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder]
4. True leaders aren’t impenetrable, they are resilient.
Whether you’re a CEO or not, obstacles, challenges, and setbacks will come. The trick is to learn how to weather the storms and not let the inevitable fear, anxiety, and doubt overtake you. Fletcher’s solution for the setbacks? A little box. “Put a fearless box on your desk, and in that box, you put all the things that remind you how good you are. You put all the best stuff you’ve done. You put notes from people who have told you you’re amazing. You put all those things in that little box, and when you have those moments, you look at that. And you remind yourself that you’re amazing at what you do and you remind yourself why you do it. And then you give yourself two minutes, and you let it go. And you gotta let it go. The best athletes in the world, the reason why they’re great is because they recover really fast. So peek at that fearless toolbox and recover fast.”
5. Leadership is about finding your voice and using it wisely.
Being the loudest one in the room isn’t always the best plan of attack. People tend to follow and be inspired by those who choose quality over quantity, or in this case, those who choose their words wisely. And for those of us who are introverts, take time to exercise your muscles. “I would encourage people that are challenged by speaking up to start small, and maybe that smallness is just a question, so you’re not making a statement, you’re not being too bold or outspoken, you’re just asking a question,” Fletcher says. “When we ask questions, really cool and powerful things happen.”
Want to hear more amazing advice from these dynamic leaders? Check out this video from the event and resolve to redefine leadership in 2016!
Photos: The Collington Group