Leadership part 1: what I’ve learnt so far

By Emma Donovan

Posted on 25th September 2019

Reading time: 3 minutes

I’ve recently started watching a medical series called New Amsterdam - which is very out of character for two reasons: I don’t own a TV or prioritise any screen time, and I blanch at the first site of blood! But stay with me…

About 15 minutes in to the first episode I realised why I was hooked (and falling for the main character, which may come as less of a surprise) – it was actually all about leadership. About leading by example, inspiring people and asking one simple question: ‘how can I help?’

The script writer has created a character that I aspire to be like every day. So in this blog post series I plan to reflect on my own leadership journey, what I’ve learnt so far and the impact this has had on Yellow Door. I’ll also explain why developing my leadership style is something I look forward to working on in every chapter of our business, and how I go about this.

But let’s start at the beginning. Soon after we established Yellow Door in 2014, I began to understand the distinction between being a manager and being a leader, and why both are essential in any business.

Dom and I quickly learnt to wear multiple hats , and how important it is to play to our individual strengths. As the team grew, we also realised that she is a far more patient and hands-on manager than I could ever be! In fact, her top five strengths couldn’t be more relevant: relator, communication, positivity, includer and woo (read more about each one here ). So we developed a structure where I support her in this management role, and am happy to step in when needed, but it’s not a primary focus.

When it comes to leadership, we work best as a team. Despite having different leadership styles, our values are aligned, and we make time to connect and ensure we are on the same page every week.

At a stage when I was feeling pretty over my role and questioning whether all the stress and hard work is really worth it (yes, we have those days too!) I booked a one-on-one session with our happiness coach Tammy Godsall . She did a few exercises with me to really pinpoint my purpose, pushing me to identify one word that sums up why I do what I do. And that word was to INSPIRE.

A day when I inspire a team member, a partner or a client energises me and gives me a sense of satisfaction that is hard to beat – even if it’s after a focused four-hour strategy workshop and I’m ready to fall in a heap!

So much of life is about working together towards a common goal, and at Yellow Door our mission is to add value to the brands we work with and to develop the people we work with, even if they are only here for a season or two. But that’s enough rambling for one post… I will leave you with a quote by Madiba, one that isn’t always an easy pill to swallow, but certainly a sign of a true leader:

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” – Nelson Mandela

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