Your Leadership Shelf

Navigating the multiverse of leadership development

During the October 2019 Leadership Development workshop with SharpHeels career conference in Seattle, we talked about the need to calibrate our own leadership development efforts within the framework we have defined for ourselves as leaders.

Today, the range of contexts for "leading" is broad, but in terms of career management, we looked at three-

  1. Formal or Positional Leadership--within a role defined and scoped by the organization

  2. Influencer or Subject Guru--cued off of unique experience or tenure in a function, or area of expertise

  3. High Value Brand--known for personal mastery, extensive networked relationships, acknowledged "go-to" resource

 When I published my first book on leadership, Take Me To Your Leader, Taking The Lead In Our Lives, it was still the bricks-and-mortar distribution era. Just as the book was about to land in the bookstores, I remember walking through my local one and being profoundly intimidated by the thousands of books I was competing with. Then I realized, I was really competing with one shelf, Self Leadership. And only a couple of other authors were looking at self-leadership on a personal mastery level.

Fast forward to the universe of resources, perspectives, and conversations populating the digital environment now, and it is understandable when our eyes roll back in our heads at the thought of trying to find the guidance that will serve our own leadership journey.

There are three "inquiries" that can help us navigate to the career management tools that are aligned to our development goals--

What leadership context attracts you?

Not all leaders are sitting at the top of the organization chart. The complexity in the business environment today really does mean that everyone is a leader in some capacity. Clarifying your own intention in that effort is the first step to developing skills, acquiring experiences, and cultivating your network.

  • Formal/Positional Leadership

  • Influencer/Guru

  • High Value Brand/Personal Mastery

 What leader(s) do you resonate with?

"I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become." Diane Von Furstenberg, The Woman I Wanted To Be

There are many, many ways to lead. I have always resonated with this quote from Diane Von Furstenberg. It articulates something of the way I have understood the path I was walking as a leader. I shared her perspective that my own leadership approach began with an internal journey, a personal sense of integrity and influence. An important part of deciding how we will lead is about finding our tribe. Being in conversation with other leaders who share our passion, who hear and see us as a leader.

What is the primary question you have right now about your own leadership journey?

This is your leadership shelf. The leadership question in front of me right now as a coach is, "how do I create an environment where people feel safe to take on the tough questions?"One brave woman leader at a recent workshop asked, "How do I lead from a place of inclusion and expertise without playing the gender game?"

After defining the landscape and conversation for your own leadership journey, the defining question becomes, "what am I here to do."

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. This world is but a canvas to our imagination. If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Henry David Thoreau

Debra Talbert is a leadership and life coach based in the Seattle area. She is the author of "Take Me To Your Leader, Taking The Lead In Our Lives"