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5 min read

National Leadership Day 

31 January 2024

My Grandma had an age-old saying of leading by example. And now as Natterjack grows, I completely understand her turn of phrase.

It's becoming abundantly clear that authentic leadership is a journey - one that evolves with each experience, challenge, and triumph. So today on National Leadership Day, I thought I’d share a very candid reflection of my leadership journey so far, of someone who is learning and growing along the way.

1. The ugly truth - I’m learning as I go.

Leadership doesn’t come with a handbook sadly. There's no one-size-fits-all manual that equips you with all of the answers because each day presents a different opportunity or challenge to overcome. I’m still in my early leadership days and I’m learning alongside my colleagues how to be a brilliant leader. It takes courage to be vulnerable with the team, but I’m hoping that this human side of leadership makes it more relatable, and means everyone at Natterjack Marketing feels comfortable to be their authentic self. Simon Sinek says something along the lines of leadership not being about being in charge, but of taking care of those in your charge.

2. Mistakes or a chance to learn?

If we’ve met, I don’t think you’ll be surprised at my admission of being a bit of a glass half full kind of person. Instead of dwelling over mistakes, mishaps, and errors I try to look at it as an opportunity to learn something new, to unpick what didn’t quite go to plan, and what I could do better next time. My Grandma had another brilliant phrase, usually, she was describing my brother [sorry Steven!!] but she used to say “You can’t fit nowt in a full bottle”. How does that apply to leadership I hear you ask. Think about it, if your metaphorical bottle is full, as in, you're closed off to learning new things, or you're perhaps in the camp of thinking that because you’ve been on two leadership courses, you’ve been promoted, or have taken the mantle of running the show, that you know how to be a good leader, are you really ever going to be a brilliant leader? Are you ever going to allow yourself to learn more, to learn new things, or to think about how to overcome a challenge differently? Only you can decide. 

3. Trust, trust, trust

Authentic leadership is rooted in honesty and transparency. What I’m learning on this journey is that it is okay to not have all of the answers all of the time and it’s crucial to admit when you don’t. It builds trust within the team, within the people around you, and it allows the team to navigate solutions, rather than thinking you have to know everything yourself. I’ve certainly been guilty in the past of thinking that I know everything and got frustrated when people didn’t agree or challenged my opinion, but as time moves on, and I’ve had more experience, it’s okay to not be a know-it-all all.

4. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason

Being a leader isn’t about having the loudest voice. What I am learning is that my role as a leader is to listen twice as much as I speak. That’s a challenge for most of us, try having the name natter in your company, and you can see the size of the mountain I am trying to climb!!! Being a leader is hearing or listening to the things that aren’t being said. Listening intently is the biggest and most important skill as a leader you need to master. Hearing and listening are two VERY different things. Everyone on your team has a story, an opinion, insights, information, and perspectives on things. I try my best to listen intently to increase my understanding and to also foster a culture of inclusiveness and the art of working together effectively, with challenge and integrity. Leading a team of creative minds can be tough; we’re a spirited bunch with oodles of passion and enthusiasm, have brains that work at the same speed that Usain Bolt runs, and have ideas that challenge and push our clients way out of their comfort zone but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world!

5. The art of adaptability

Leadership is not a straight line, it's not rigid, it’s fluid and I've found that being adaptable is a cornerstone of effective leadership. It’s the ability to pivot when needed, embrace change, and guide your team through the uncertainty that demonstrates resilience and vision. Granted I don’t always get it right, and I’m the first to reflect and admit what I would do differently next time, but that’s exactly the point of being a good leader, it’s recognising your shortcomings and being able to articulate them to your team.

6. Celebrate the successes

In the pursuit of grand achievements, it's easy to overlook the joy in celebrating small wins. Early leadership is about acknowledging the efforts and victories, no matter how modest. I’ve found for us at Natterjack Marketing it has cultivated a positive culture and a team that constantly strives for the victory, no matter how big or small it may seem.

In the tapestry of leadership, my early experiences are but a few threads. I've learned that embracing the journey, with all its uncertainties and lessons, is not just acceptable—it's fundamental. That concept scared me initially, but it’s okay to be a work in progress, and I'm discovering that this is not only okay; it's the essence of leadership authenticity.

So, to all fellow leaders on this journey, remember that growth comes with challenges, learning is a continuous process, and your authenticity is your greatest asset. As we navigate the uncharted, let's do so with open hearts, open minds, and an unwavering commitment to becoming the leaders our teams deserve, and the leaders we looked up to, or aspired to be like, when we started our careers.

Lindsay Gray 
Founder + CEO
LINDSAY GRAY author thumb

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