What does it mean to be a leader? In the simplest form, I would say leadership is influencing other people to follow or accomplish a common goal. After eight months of attending leadership training through the Leadership Montana program, I have compiled the highlights of what I learned from 40 of the most badass leaders from around Montana.
1. Be endlessly curious.
There is so much to learn; no matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn. On that note, I suggest getting comfortable in your skin to admit when you don’t know something. A true leader can admit when they don’t know the answer, but they will also work to find the answer.
2. “Do you want me to be the listening or fixing tree?”
That is how one colleague in Leadership Montana asks his children what they need from him. This lesson is a perfect way to illustrate that leaders often think that their job is to “fix” the problem. However, what I believe makes a true leader is to listen to the problem and work as a team to find a solution. Being a leader that is open to listening is one of the most vital qualities you can bring. Not one person should feel that they need to “fix” everything on their own. It is a team effort.
3. A leader should be comfortable with conflict.
As long as you have a shared goal, you can work your way through the conflict. Out of conflict can come great change.
4. We make our own weather.
Bring the sunshine. You will deal with heavy stuff as a leader, but if you can come with a positive attitude, it will make everyone happier around you. Keeping the air light will help you deal with even the heaviest situations.
5. Leadership is challenging, but with the right tools, it becomes so much easier.
Find your posse of leaders you can lean on and toss ideas around with – it is so valuable to have friends you can grow with.
To spend eight months growing as a leader, learning how other leaders respond to situations, and doing deep dives into leadership style is eye-opening and inspiring. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be with some of the best leaders in Montana, and I can’t wait to see how they change our state and our world.