Leadership Lesson 7: Beyond the Surface

The simplest definition of leadership is influencing others to do something while working towards a common goal or agenda. In 2022, I’m focusing on becoming a better leader in all areas of my life. As I grow, I’m sharing lessons and stories along the way. Thanks for tuning in and I hope something I share resonates with you in your leadership (influence) journey. 

Everyone has a story. Think about those with whom you spend the most time —family, coworkers, spouse, a close friend. You probably know their stories. How do you know their stories? Because you’ve spent time with them observing their lives, asking questions, sharing ideas, eating together and a host of other shared activities. 

Conversely, think about those with whom you rarely spend time—your banker, the cashier at Target, or your 5th grade teacher. Because your interactions with them are more limited, less frequent and brief, you most likely don’t really know them. For example, you may even put them into a box of all bankers are this way or do these certain things. However, until you really sit down and do life with people, you really don’t know them and all the layers that make up who they are. 

Imagine judging someone purely from one or two brief encounters or from no encounters at all. When we do this, we almost always place them in the wrong box or stereotype them. To keep from doing this, take time to ask questions. Get to know others and push yourself to expand your circle beyond what’s comfortable. Invite others to coffee. Invite a family you don’t know very well over for dinner. Get to know that coworker that seems to always feel differently than you do. Although these interactions can be a little awkward or even uncomfortable at first, the knowledge you will gain from getting to know people and their perspectives is well worth the effort. 

As leaders, we should embrace diversity and differences and use it as a tool to build bridges with others. 

 ~Coletta Jones Patterson

Coletta is an author, speaker, life coach and business executive who is passionate about helping others get unstuck. She hosts a beyond stuck podcast and has written seven inspirational books. Connect with Coletta at info@moveu4ward.com. 

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