The greatest lesson I learned about leadership came from someone I once had a conversation with whose father was the chief of a tribe. After inheriting his duties, he explained his newfound responsibilities to his family. His responsibility wasn’t just to himself but to the people around him.
I think about this often when I think about how I want to continue cultivating my leadership responsibilities.
Leadership isn’t just about telling others what to do or how to act, it’s about helping others and making the community around you a better place to be. It’s about the impact you’re trying to create and being someone those around you can look up to.
This doesn’t just go for my role as the president of the G League but in every area of my life–including as a father, a husband and in my community and philanthropic work with Future Foundation.They’re all branches from the same tree. Showing up as a leader shouldn’t stop when I go home or when I get to work–it’s all-encompassing in every facet of my life.
Leadership is an ongoing journey and is composed of your skills, experiences, and your growth path. If you want to continue cultivating your leadership abilities, there are a few things to remember.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to foster a sense of awareness of yourself. It’s vital to recognize your strengths, weaknesses, values, and emotions. A leader’s self-awareness forms the basis for decision-making, communication, and understanding how their actions ripple across their team, family, or anywhere in life.
Without self-awareness, it’s easy to stay stuck in the same patterns. It’s when the awareness presents itself we’re able to make real changes within ourselves and our environment. Feedback, introspection, and mentorship are great tools to nurture this trait.
During my time on the court each game season I had to take inventory to see where I needed to improve. I had to be self-aware enough to know my strengths and weaknesses, that was the only way to become a better player. The same approach is needed in leadership.
Develop effective communication
Clear and open communication is essential to being a good leader. Leaders must be able to convey information and feedback in a way everyone can understand. Unclear directions can lead to disappointment and confusion, which at the end of the day, is the responsibility of the leader at hand.
Foster a growth mindset
By fostering a growth mindset, you encourage innovation and adaptability within whomever you’re leading. Learning from failures and embracing challenges is a great way to promote a culture where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth and then retribution. This can significantly boost productivity and morale.
Cultivate empathy and emotional intelligence
As I mentioned before, leadership isn’t about authority and telling others what to do. It’s about connecting with people and being able to relate to those around you. Being an effective leader means you can hear out those around you, grasp their perspective, and respond with empathy. This builds trust and a supportive environment wherever you are.
Lead by example
Saying something is one thing but embodying what you say is another. When leaders exemplify the values they preach, they inspire those around them to follow. Leaders set the standard for behavior, work ethic, and commitment, and foster a culture where everyone strives for excellence.
Understand the importance of collaboration
Being a great leader means knowing how important it is to create spaces for collaboration and team building. While on the court, we knew just how important it was to work together rather than try to take the spotlight for ourselves. Each person on a team serves a vital role in the success of any organization.
Delegate and empower those around you
Effective leadership isn’t about how much you can add to your plate but trusting your team enough to delegate responsibilities. This not only allows you to focus on other needs but allows your team members to build confidence.
Being a leader is a rewarding experience and responsibility, but it isn’t without its challenges. Leadership can be demanding and if you’re not careful, you can burn yourself out. By doing so, you’re effectively not showing up as the best leader you can be. So be sure to prioritize a routine you can sustain and a rejuvenation practice that keeps you clear and energized to keep playing your part in being an effective leader.