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My Executive Assistant Sent Me to The Wrong Country

Why Love and Compassion Are The Best Leadership Strategies.

Organisational leadership asks a lot. I’m sure most leaders will relate when I say it can be a thankless task, constantly managing a thousand different elements and layers of a vision, whilst ensuring that every team member is accounted for and performing their best.

It’s every leader’s dream, I believe, to have a self-perpetuating culture that ensures attention to detail, consideration for deliverables and performance, optimistic thinking and a magic balance of autonomy, risk taking and due pragmatism. 

When it comes to Love Out Loud, our values are imperative. The thing about leading a movement, is it requires all of us to move in order to grow. Without an adherence to and embodiment of our values, Love Out Loud has no foundations in which to grow. This makes me rethink everything we do differently. 

It becomes far less about autocratic leadership, and far more about inclusively and co-creation. I continually have to take myself of a pedestal and reinforce that I’m simply a co-operative piece in the broader tapestry which each of us are contributing to. We’re in this together, and my whole team will tell you just how much I emphasise our equal responsibility. 

Yet, the loneliness of leadership does have a habit of creeping in. I won’t try and mask that. I strive for radically honest and transparent leadership. When I’m travelling the world, often alone, I have hours, upon days, upon weeks, upon months to contemplate things and build an extremely intimate relationship with myself. I have travelling down to a fine art and click over into autopilot when getting from one side of the globe to the next. I usually enter a relatively subdued state, and my people-watching writer tends to emerge. I drop into a sense of deep creativity – honestly, I think it’s become the coping strategy for the number of hours I spend in the air. I say this with no distaste (I actually love my own company). This does, however, mean I rely heavily on what my calendar tells me, as my ability to be “on” as much as I am, does flounder in amongst time zones. 

When I hired my Executive Assistant, the first thing I asked with complete sincerity was “what’s your capacity to calculate different time zones and manage a relentless calendar like?” knowing all too well, this job isn’t for the fainthearted. It was always going to require someone with unhuman amounts of tenacity, patience and organisation; mostly to deal with me every day, but also because of the nature of the work.

I made the right choice, my EA is one of the most amazing women I know; strong, patient, kind-hearted and gets it done. She tends to think of things before I even have to ask, and never complains after I send her 20 consecutive emails after a flight of all the things, I spontaneously remembered that I needed to be reminded of. She’s so intuitive that she actually asked if I was looking for an EA, minutes before I was about to ask a group if they knew anyone that may be suited for the role. So, it’s been a magical journey. 

So, when she sent me to the wrong country the day before I was meant to meet the Embassy in the developing country of Laos, I was a little rattled. I’ll admit, I wasn’t in the best shape after 30 hours of travel, but even in the cleanest most centred frame of mind, this would’ve come as a shock.

What’s the right thing to do? Especially when you’re generally spiritual outlook on things; it’s all perfect, sometimes does need to take a little bit of a backseat so productivity and incompetence can be addressed.

I sat with it as I watched the sunset in Luang Prabang rather than Vientiane. What’s the best course of action? What’s does true leadership look like in this instance?

Simon Sinek said something that imprinted deeply in my heart and laced my leadership in one of his talks. “You wouldn’t throw your children out when they made a mistake, so why do we do it to our employees?”

This quote came to mind. He’s right. A team is a family and needs to be treated and responded to like one. See, just like I discuss in my talks, we have two options in challenging situations; 

  1. Lean In
  2. Lean Out

What we lean into, and what we lean out of, completely defines us. So, how was I going to define my leadership? With love of course. When a family member isn’t at their best, this is reason to lean in, become curious and support them even more. It really does seem like a counterintuitive position for a leader to take – and part of my dream as a leader is to completely shift the paradigm to show that love and compassion are strategies in leadership, that result in an even better bottom line.

Here’s the thing:

  1. Every time we lean into a challenging situation, we grow.
  2. When we choose love, we naturally become more expansive and abundant (despite what it looks like in the short-term).
  3. Choosing compassion in a situation where the other is expecting punishment, creates a pattern interrupt, which can act as a powerful activator in relationships. 
  4. The mark of a good leader is someone who can take responsibility for the entirety of their team – the wins, but also the losses.   

There’s no one model of leadership that I believe can act as a blanket solution in all instances; it’s a matter of continual enquiry. I am consistently asking myself the question: “what would love do?”

In the last team meeting, the team felt closer than ever; and just by the way, I can feel the engines blazing even more as I give to my team, they’re inspired to give straight back. Don’t forget leaders; you are the demonstration; your team are mirroring you.

All My Love,

Nicole

CEO & Founder

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