Five Tips for Growing Leaders

There are some things you can’t learn from a business leadership book.

So how do we, as growing leaders, find our own leadership styles in a world of dated paradigms? Here are five key takeaways and tips to incorporate when defining your personal leadership stride.

01 – Know your strengths.

Being a leader isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of job, even though we sometimes wish it was. We can often get swept by the desire to emulate other leaders in our company, but the reality is, you’re not them. By being true to your passions and strengths, you’re naturally positioning yourself as a successful mentor.

Tip: Squash the misconception about extroverts and introverts when it comes to leadership. Leading with your voice is just as valuable as leading with your work. Embrace the one that is comfortable for you, and embrace to your personal method.

02 – Notice what your team members are good at and tell them.

There are just some things you notice in other people that they simply don’t notice in themselves. It’s kind of like when someone asks you what your fun fact is. If you’re like me, you blank and maybe even consider how boring you are as a human. But, in less than a second, your coworker can rattle off five interesting things about you. So when you see others shining, take note and let them know. Words of affirmation go a long way.

Tip: Marissa Shrum, Editor in Chief @ TargetTag, mentioned she keeps a “Noticing Notebook” where she jots down when team members are doing things that puts them in a “flow” and then makes sure they’re aware of it. Be it a designer getting into a new style of illustration work or when a tech lead explores new presentation layouts that get his design eye working, you can find the spark within people and highlight their strengths in these areas that they might think go unnoticed!

03 – Remember that we’re all human.

We all have a world outside of the office that impacts our day to day lives. Acknowledging that members of your team are human first and professionals second will give you insight into their life and help you understand them holistically.

Tip: Consider scheduling 15 min one-on-one sessions to ask people about their family, hobbies, or their path to getting into the job they have now. By doing so, you achieve two things. First, you establish that you’re both human. Second, you’ve unlocked access to knowing their interests and can find ways to weave them into worklife. 

04 – Practice what you preach.

Even if you don’t want to think of yourself as anyone’s “boss”—the reality is you may very well be one. This means people will look to your methods of success and replicate your habits. If you preach to your team to detach from work and take time off, it’s important to show yourself the same commitment. As Marissa Shrum put it, “Honor the policies you’re putting in place.” 

Tip: If sending emails late at night is just “your thing,” be mindful to communicate to your team that just because you do it, does not mean that it’s a standard or expectation for them. There’s a plugin called Boomerang for Gmail that lets you schedule your emails which allows you to get your emails done, without flooding people’s inboxes and causing unnecessary anxiety.

05 – Listen.

Remember to hear what your team members are saying and echo those sentiments that you agree with. By echoing them, you allow their voices to ring louder and confirm your understanding. 

Tip: Stacy Fuller, SVP of Integrated Marketing @ Refinery29, sbared a listening tactic that she uses from a parenting book when she’s balancing many things but wants to be an active listener. Before she engages with team members that need her, she asks “Do you need my ear, brain or voice?”. By figuring out if her team member needs to vent, wants input or a brainstorm, or wants her to advocate for them, she cuts out the guessing game and gets straight to the point.


These take-aways were inspired from the following speakers during Advertising Week: 

Ambika Pai, Head of Strategy @ Mekanism

Colleen Leddy, CMO @ Droga5
Naz Riahi, Founder, Curator & Creative Director @ Bitten

Patty Carnevale, Header of Partnerships @ Man Repeller
Marissa Shrum, Editor in Chief @ TargetTag
Stacy Fuller, SVP of Integrated Marketing @ Refinery29