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Five Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Being a Leader

By Lucy McCarthy

1 To be a leader you must be yourself fully

And being the you people know and care about means holding on firmly to your values, and accepting your vulnerabilities. It means also that you have confidence that your empathy will always provide you with the strength to be deeply compassionate and tolerant. Indeed, to not lead would be to deny your gifts, talents and great actions for inclusion and justice. In the words of Warren Bennis,

“The point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, and use yourself completely-all your gifts, skills, and energies-to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing. You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.”

2 You are strong enough to lead

You don’t shy away from the ‘tough stuff’ of leadership like having hard conversations, you will do this with respect and care for the dignity of others that swells from your kindness and humanity. It is because you care so much that you are exactly the right person to help others be accountable for doing their best.

Your endless kindness and optimism set the stage for helping others see a better way when this is needed. True kindness is strong; telling people the truth they need to hear is much kinder than shying away from a challenging issue. To avoid hard conversations is easy, disrespectful and weak.

You use grit to support, inspire and challenge others to be leaders and a great delight is to see them soar with success and achievement. You never forget to celebrate the success of others and share the bonds of fun, laughter and joy as well as the community that gels around sadness, grief and loss. Your courage holds you steady as you call on your core values to clear a path towards a hopeful future where others may not be able to see one.

3 You don’t have to be perfect

You won’t be a different person, you will become more of who you are, and friends and colleagues won’t notice anything other than you being inspiring, responding to what needs to be done, and shining the spotlight on their achievements and successes, as you always have.

“Accepting imperfection is an asset to leadership; your openness and humility about your flaws, mistakes and vulnerability show others that you are a learner and value each of them as co-learners. Your efficacy and trust, not the false ideal of perfection, light the pathway forward and show that like everyone you know you have ‘blind spots’ which you seek to understand and work on in order to better support others.”

4 You can have and do it all

Your devotion to those close to you, commitment to others and high standards will keep you busy, and some days you wonder how you will do it all; you will. Your loved ones are part of an on-going juggle –unless they need you and when they do, you will be there with them. You hear phrases like “work-life balance”, and though this is hectic at times, your heart tells you where you most need to be; and you will go there.

You are a powerful role model for your daughters and sons, as well as other women who are inspired by the passion and joy that comes from fulfilment, contribution and achievement.

5 You can and will lead

Nothing can hold back the drive of those who see a better way and stride out towards it knowing it is hard work - they simply can’t not do it. You can and are leading as you become the person you started out to be '…enjoy the process of becoming'.


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