While growing up, I was fortunate to have values around education, hard work and perseverance instilled in me by my mother. As part of our WoMen March Initiative, I would like to celebrate the personal lessons in leadership that I learned from her.
Very few people within my mother’s extended family finished high school and none of them went to university. She, however, had a passion for learning and held a lifelong belief that we can better ourselves and our situation in life through learning. Against all odds, she finished high school, went to university and graduated with a degree in Pharmacy. She was also the only woman in her class at university. Upon graduation, she opened a pharmacy in Beirut in the early 1970s and co-managed it with my dad for 39 years until she passed away five years ago.
Through her experience, she instilled in me a passion to learn and taught me invaluable lessons in leadership.
Personal Lesson in Leadership #1: Learning is a lifelong journey
- Good leaders continuously strive to better themselves through learning.
- Good leaders seek to learn from all people around them and all situations they encounter.
- Good leaders stay humble in their learning, as pride could make us impervious to learning.
Personal Lesson in Leadership #2: Live Above the Line
Ownership – Accountability -Responsibility
Blame – Excuses -Denial
This second lesson is about growing a keen sense of responsibility. Whatever we do, no matter how great or small our role is, having an attitude of “the buck stops with me” always makes such a profound difference.
Whether in my work or my personal life, I naturally face difficult situations; sometimes it’s a project that I don’t like, sometimes it’s being posted in a location that is not great, often it’s having to deal with a really difficult situation. Whatever that situation is, I try to keep the following in mind:
- This situation is temporary and would eventually go away.
- How can I seek feedback from my colleagues and what can I learn from it? Can I enhance my negotiation skills? Can I build more resilience when dealing with difficult people? Can I become better at influencing people? Can I become better at multi-tasking? Etc
- Whatever this situation is, am I taking fully ownership of it? Am I taking responsibility or am I dropping the ball? Am I spreading blame or does the buck stop with me?
The lessons can be endless, as long as we keep on looking for them.
By: Mounir Ariss, Partner, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East