Following on from last week’s blog on being a leader, here is part 2 where I recount some of my observations when I recently sat on a speaker panel at the Property Council of Australia’s Annual Diversity lunch.

6: Having a mentor is imperative on your journey.

“To know that what I’m doing seems less scary to someone more experienced than me allows me to move past fear and achieve things that at first seemed impossible.”

Sarah Bartholomeusz

I have been fortunate enough to work with people who have always been prepared to light the way forward and share their experiences, good and bad. The relationships I have formed and the “nuggets of advice” along the way have had a profound effect on me both personally and professionally.

I think we can all have that profound impact on others around us. No matter what our field, our experiences can be comforting, earth shattering and life changing for those who are new to the game. I’d encourage you all to be as open to sharing your time, insights and energy with colleagues as those who have mentored me throughout my career.

Success definitely breeds success.

7: Entitlement is the biggest trait I’ve seen derail someone’s career.

Getting to the top of your game is one thing; staying there is something very different. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to continuously improve and push the boundaries of what is possible. Embracing innovation and technology and challenging the way things have always been done can give you an edge that propels you forward, and sets you apart from your competitors.

If you are born lucky, that will get you into the top 10% of your industry, and you can cruise along pretty comfortably at that level.

That same attitude seems to take so many people out of the field in that final push to the very top. The only way to be the very best is to figure out exactly what your clients want that they are not getting, leave your ego at the door and get about delivering results without needing someone to pat you on the back.

Even a shadow of entitlement prevents a deep culture of service to emerge among the team that any great leader relies on to create world class performance. I stay vigilant about this in myself every day. As Australians, most of us are born lucky in some way, shape or form, so as we become more successful, that ego piece can creep in when we least expect it. The moment it starts to be about “me” is the moment I need to bow out and let a more worthy candidate reach for that “leader of my industry” holy grail.

8:  Growth and development means we should never stop learning.

I very consciously seek out opportunities to break new ground and see where it can take me. I work with a number of coaches and mentors who keep me accountable and focused on the path ahead. I also make a point of mentoring others, as I have a soft spot for up and coming entrepreneurs.

I also keep fit and healthy, and not content without having a challenge for myself – I’ve recently started training for a marathon. I believe that anything is possible in business and in life and I let both my words and actions speak to that.

I prioritise opportunities for quality family time with my husband and two children. I deliberately plan for fun experiences with them. This “down time” gives me the opportunity to smell the roses and approach business with a fresh perspective.

Learning is forever, especially in the business of the law. It is an ever-changing landscape we are navigating and leading our clients through step by step. Our future depends on it!

I’m constantly scanning for my next coach or mentor. I have quite a few, and I’m always on the lookout for another guide who really believes that what I’m doing will make a solid impact on the lives of others. Someone with the experience and confidence to move me outside my comfort zone and spur me into actions; that allow me to become the person I need to be rather that the person I think I’m worthy of being.

9: Failure will happen, it’s an opportunity for growth

Failure is taboo. It’s not popular. It’s not on anyone’s to do list. But it’s necessary. And it’s important. Here’s why – it’s grounding. It gives you a new perspective, an opportunity to change course.

Maya Angelou says, “you may encounter many defeats but do not be defeated, in fact it may be necessary to encounter defeats so you can know who you are, what you can rise from and how you can still come out of it.”

I had been made redundant during a restructure. The timing was terrible. I was expecting a baby and was then having to deal with the prospect of needing to go and look for another job. At the time I considered I had hit a really low point, but in hindsight it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me!

I was forced to take stock and had an opportunity to really consider what my next move might look like.

10: Everyone needs a vision.

My desire is to deliver what a big firm takes 2 weeks to deliver in less than 24hours. We are testing this, challenging this, building processes, implementing technology and systems and looking at all viable resources to see if we can make this happen.

Our mission is to move leaders back into the action fast and what that looks like to us is that a C Suite Executive should be able to realise that they are stuck with a risk item today, and know that they will be unstuck tomorrow. They can then get back to leading their teams with zero fear in their heart and a clear head.

When the leaders of our great companies know that their risk is handled and that any new risk will be handled in 24 hours, imagine how this changes the face of business leadership across all of Australia’s major industries. That’s a deep legacy that I’m willing to work on very patiently until we get it perfect and see the full effect it can have on our country.

11: Biggest challenge I’ve faced as a younger woman in business.

Keeping the faith that the work that I do will make the journey for the next generation fairer for every leader who is called on to step up. With every year, that challenge has gotten a little easier. I meet another person who helps me get over myself and grow to become the person my team know I can be. I see another glass ceiling that seemed so solid just a few years ago shatter and fall and I do a little better at holding my tongue and simply smiling. I see a gatekeeper who I thought would never change their tune reverse their stance and open a door to innovation or meritocracy and I give them more credit for the bravery and vision that it takes to do that.

I relax and open my heart and come up with a new ideas that bring everyone along instead of making the old guard feel old and guarded. And then I hear one of my kids say something that reminds me that I am tomorrows old guard, and that fills me with energy and I get on with the job of building something that it worthy of their emerging vision. Nothing is more humbling than listening to the leaders of tomorrow (our children) and realising that it’s no longer about us.

Final thoughts…

There will always be critics if people are trying to do something differently that has been done the same way for a long time. I do often think about what Theodore Roosevelt said about the critics and the people who are in the arena, if you are a leader you are the one who is marred by dust and sweat and blood; striving valiantly for a worthy cause.  And I know that if I am to fail (which all leaders do from time to time) I know that would happen while I am daring greatly. 

Those people in the stands may never know victory nor defeat as intimately. You can’t truly taste success without failure along the way.