As Valentine’s Day approaches it’s a great time to consider the lessons that love can teach us about leading others and appreciating the contributions of those who have helped to make us successful.
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In that spirit I wanted to share some thoughts from Maria Pinelli, EY Global Vice Chair for Strategic Growth Markets and Bryan Pearce, EY Global Leader for Venture Capital and the Accelerating Entrepreneurs program, on the lessons love can teach us about leading and growing your business.
Invest in Yourself
You can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first. Loving yourself is really about finding ways to make yourself better. Good leaders invest in themselves by making the time for self-improvement through mental nourishment. Pearce believes investing in yourself “requires introspection, self-awareness, and a keen sense of strategy.” He points out that “as a leader, you can never stand still” because the world is constantly changing. To be an effective leader you must embrace self-directed learning. Whether it’s a book, podcast, or formal training, carve out time each week for some sort of self-improvement activity, so you can be the leader your team needs.
Don’t be Selfish
As important as it is to invest in yourself first, you also have to keep in mind that any meaningful and mutually rewarding relationship requires give and take. Leading isn’t about telling, it’s about influencing. This requires paying keen attention to the needs of those you touch and understanding how to create and frame win-win scenarios. According to Pinelli “every stakeholder from your supplier through to your customer must be considered, and no one neglected or you’ll end up with a dysfunctional business.” When you go out of your way to show you care about others they will care about you. Reach out, listen, and find the middle ground.
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Surround Yourself with the Right People
For many of us Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder of the power of our relationships. Just as your significant other plays a vital role in influencing how you act and behave, so do your professional relationships shape your decision making. The reality is you are only as effective as those you surround yourself with. You must always be wise in who you confide in when facing tough times. This is why a good mentor can go a long way towards business success. Pearce points out that a good mentor can “introduce you to important business contacts and share their own experiences” so as to give you that leg-up in making the right decisions. If you don’t have a mentor, Pearce notes programs, like the EY Accelerating Entrepreneurs program, are a great opportunity to find that new mentor.
Say Thank You
Valentine’s Day isn’t just about reaffirming love it’s also about saying thank you to that special person who has stuck by you through good and bad. Just as in our personal lives there are those very special people who are there for us in our professional lives and we can’t forget to show our gratitude. Pinelli notes that “it’s too easy to allow ambition, drive, and a focus on results get in the way of stopping to say thank you to the people that make it possible.” Take a moment every day to catch someone doing something right and thank them for it. It’s a small investment of time that can yield a lifetime of positive returns.