How You Can See Leadership As a Daily Practice
I rarely think about leadership.
That’s hard to imagine, considering how often we are bombarded with that word. There are thousands of blog posts, articles, books and videos about leadership. LinkedIn has more than 26,000 groups about leadership! Every day, there’s an email about how to lead and what qualities make a great leader. I have been told that I am a leader — I even won an award as a top woman business leader.
I believe I am a leader — but I rarely think about it. Instead, I practice leadership daily, just like I practice yoga.
I moved to Miami in my 20s. My grandmother lived here. She was a tall, powerful woman and I feared her when I was a child. But after moving here, I began to spend more time with her than I had in my entire life. As she needed more help, we became closer.
One spring, when she was in her 80s and had lost much of her strength and sureness, I took her back to New York for her last visit there. As we were coming through Miami International Airport, I made the mistake of standing behind her on the descending escalator. About halfway down, she fell forward.
I stopped breathing.
Someone had the presence of mind to stop the escalator. But this episode changed my life. Concerned about my balance as I aged, I began to practice yoga. As I learned more about the eccentricities of my body, it became a way to try to straighten my spine. Now that I have become more proficient physically, yoga is a way to calm my mind and seek joy. I am a practitioner of yoga and I practice every day.
And I practice leadership daily as well.
Finding a practice
There are many ways to be a leader, but few lead accidentally. Some act courageously in the moment; some manage others and direct them to complete important tasks. But to quote Stephen Covey, real practitioners of leadership “begin with the end in mind.”
Practitioners of leadership incorporate regular habits that target the vision they want to see in the world. Practicing leadership in this way becomes very personal, very practical, and very rewarding. I try to align my daily leadership practice toward my vision: a world where women and girls have equal rights, access and opportunity.
As a businesswoman, I make this practice real by modeling behaviors that will give others the opportunities to lead, coaching future leaders and helping high-potential women find their growth opportunities. I make it real by surveying the women business owners in my state for The Commonwealth Institute, and moderating a panel discussion to share those results. I make it real by presenting marketing basics at workshops where emerging women business leaders are learning the fundamental skills for success. I make it real by sharing my time and skills with The Women’s Fund, and helping to take their programs to the next level through research and advocacy.
Try this practice
This week, set aside specific, uninterrupted time every day to begin your practice of leadership. Use this as a guide to your thinking:
- If you could change one thing in the world, in your business, or in your community, what would it be?
- What are three specific and measurable things that could begin to create that change?
- What can you do — personally, professionally or by motivating others — to get those three things started?
Janet Kyle Altman leads the marketing team at Kaufman Rossin, one of the top accounting firms in the country. She also is vice chair of The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade and former chair of Friends of WLRN. A frequent writer and lecturer, Janet’s daily practice of leadership is focused on the vision that women and girls should have equal rights, access and opportunity.
Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.