Have you ever come across one of those topics that you hear over and over from your friends, peers or in trade publications that just keeps bubbling to the top of conversations? I hear them all the time, but one in particular has been buzzing around in my circle of influence recently. The ability – or inability – for leaders to find the brilliance in themselves or in their team. We seem to be conditioned to look for all the things that are wrong with ourselves and those that are in our firm, and then we miss the brilliance within and around us.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the following words from Eric Mich’el Leventhal, “Our children are only as brilliant as we allow them to be.” Now, replace the word “children” with the words “employees” or “self” and ask yourself if you are spending time looking for or helping people see the brilliance in who they are.
A good place to start your personal assessment is by looking at your own life and finding and growing the brilliance right inside you.
You’ve Got Skill
Identify the things you are really good at and then become even better at them. Skills can be:
- Cognitive or learned – These are the things that you learned in school and you enjoyed the journey. What classes did you like the most? Don’t focus on any of the things you did not do well, focus on those that created confidence for you.
- Affective or personality driven – These are the skills that form your character and your temperament. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? That is a part of your brilliance.
- Conative or instinctive – You have a built-in instinctive way of liking to work. Embrace it! You might like diving into the facts; or maybe organization is where you shine. Maybe you naturally create new ideas for services or you enjoy working with materials. Whatever you gravitate to naturally, keep going in that direction.
Give More than You Get
Brilliance comes from within, but you will personally grow when you help others. Coaching, mentoring and building relationships where you can be the guiding light for others and add value through your wisdom and knowledge is important to you and those that are significant to you.
Show gratitude to others both in the firm and outside the firm. I challenge leaders to think about the person on their team that is most valuable to them. Someone that if they went to work tomorrow and the person gave notice they would be most disappointed to lose. Then I ask them to think about the last time they told the person that they were valuable and appreciated. It is amazing how many have “that look” on their face, and it is clear that they have forgotten to show gratitude, even to the person that means the most to them at the office.
Go Out On A Limb
When is the last time you made a commitment to do something that was a bit risky? I’m not talking about skydiving, but rather going after a higher level client than you are used to; exploring a new niche that you have been interested in; or volunteering for an organization that you have been thinking about, but have just not gotten there yet. Brilliance comes from always pushing yourself harder than you did the day before – take a risk!
Some would say, think outside the box and think big. I would challenge that if you want to be brilliant, never get inside the box. Big picture thinking is something that you can learn – although for some it will come naturally. The words that a brilliant person will eradicate from their language are things like “we have always done it that way” or “that will never work.” Practice looking at the future and seeing yourself and your firm in a positive and successful light.
Work Ethic Is Not Dead
Do the work! When you combine skill, relationships, gratitude, and new ideas, the reality is that it is not enough unless you are also ready to do the work. Continue your education. Hang out with people smarter than you. Then put in the time on the right things and dedicate yourself to being better every day. Brilliance is not an end, it is a journey.
Now, after you have assessed and begun working on yourself, teach these same lessons to your team. You will be amazed at how they respond, and how brilliance will actually bubble to the top for your entire firm.
About the author
Sandra Wiley is the COO and Shareholder at Boomer Consulting, Inc. She is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant’s Alliance. Sandra has a passion for teaching the next generation leader and has developed the P3 Leadership Academy to elevate the top talent in firms throughout the country. She also assists in building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.