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“Take the Lead” is a leadership book written by Betsy Myers, the sister of Dee Dee Myers (former press secretary under Bill Clinton), and a political powerhouse in her own right. She worked in the SBA on women’s issues in the Clinton administration, was an executive at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, and was the COO of President Obama’s campaign in 2008.
From all of her insights in politics, academia, and business Ms. Myers wrote a thoughtful, articulate book about the seven qualities she sees in top leaders. In this post I will focus on the first three:
Authenticity - Betsy Myers says that people who are true to themselves, do what brings them true joy, and are expressing who they really are resonate with others. She quotes Warren Bennis (a leadership guru) who says, “People begin to be leaders at the moment when they decide for themselves how to be.” These people draw others to them, “freak out with joy” at what they are doing, and are self-aware about what motivates them and what is important in their lives.
Connection - The second trait she sees in leaders are ones who are able to connect with other people. They are ones who can build strong relationships, make others feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and are generally curious and generous with others. She also says fostering a sense of connection creates a powerful force within a group to get things done.
Respect - “Respect means being willing to listen and let others have voice, even when it might be inconvenient, difficult, or painful to do so.” Leaders understand that everyone will have a unique perspective and even if they don’t agree with the other person’s opinion allowing that opinion to be heard is important. Often it is letting other’s feel heard that earns their respect and their willingness to come together and work through things even if there was a conflict in the beginning. Respect can be a powerful influencer in building trust. She uses the example of President Obama telling her he wanted to run a campaign filled with respect.
Overall these are important leadership traits outlined by Betsy Myers. They are more of the heart based leadership traits that are not often talked about in traditional leadership books, but as more women are coming into power, what I call more typically “feminine” leadership traits are becoming more recognized as valuable and important. I am happy that Betsy Myers is recognizing the importance of these traits and calling them out in her book.
Do you demonstrate authenticity, connection, and respect as a leader in your organization? If not how can you bring more of these more feminine traits into your business?
Monica Thakrar has over 14 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.