7 tips for becoming a modern leader
Leaders can come from all parts of an organisation or community.
It’s your actions and attitude, not your job title, which have the biggest impact.
Here are my top tips for being a successful, modern leader.”
1. Learn to lead by seeking opportunities
You can only learn to lead if you seek opportunities, and say yes to things outside your comfort zone.
Sometimes you don’t realise how much you need a change until it happens. Each time I have said yes to something outside my comfort zone, I have felt invigorated by the challenges and have developed new and valuable skills that I’ve then used in subsequent roles.
2. Good leaders believe in themselves
When I was offered the role of Company Secretary at Telstra, I was about to go on maternity leave for the third time in three years. At the time my manager said: “We are offering you this role because we think you’d be good at it and we don’t want you to say no just because you are going on maternity leave."
If others have faith in your leadership potential, you should also have the confidence to back yourself.
3. Be passionate about what you do
In my team we have a vision statement – “to be trusted legal advisers with the judgment and passion to deliver brilliant outcomes”. It guides our work every single day.
If you are passionate about what you do, you’ll do more of it and get better at it. You’ll gather confidence and that will rub off on others.
4. There are many leadership styles – be authentic
If you want to lead, you need to decide what type of leader you will be. Ask yourself “What are my values? Who do I admire? Who is effective and what makes them effective?”
Whatever the style, the best leadership is always authentic - don’t try to be someone you are not.
5. Have a clear vision
It’s important to be able to clearly communicate the vision and the purpose of your organisation. This is what ensures everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals.
6. Develop a talented and diverse team
Having the right people in the right roles is essential to success. But the right people will not always be the most obvious choices. Get to know the skills, experience, strengths (and areas for development) of your team.
Diversity will give you a competitive advantage. Recognise that diversity has real value and it needs to be nurtured and supported because it is good for you, your team and our business.
7. Be a good role model
As a leader you cast a wide shadow, so you have to “walk the talk”. For example, if you say that you are focussed on the health and wellbeing of your team, you need to model that by making time for exercise, family, relaxing and interests outside work. I know it is not always easy or possible to get the ideal balance but, as leaders, we need to make the effort to demonstrate work/life flexibility.
Leaders who are role models bring out the best in their people and encourage their people to bring their “whole selves to work” .If you say that we are a values-led organisation, then you need to live the values every day in everything you do and say.
Carmel Mulhern is Telstra's Group General Counsel, providing legal advice to the Board, CEO and senior management and leading an in-house legal team across Australia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, the UK and the US.