7 Ways My Epic Failure Made Me A Better Leader

Remember when we were in high school and your teacher would assign you a group project and everyone would go ‘ughhhh?’

… and then while you’re doing the project, you’re like ‘this project would be so much easier if I didn’t have to deal with the people’?

Now imagine doing that all day, every day… As a career where your success is determined by your ability to lead the group?

Yup.

Leadership is freaking hard.

 

My Challenge With Leadership

Personal growth is the craziest thing ever because you usually don’t even know where you’re lacking until you are either called out on it or learn the lesson the hard way….

I learned that I was being a TERRIBLE leader the hard way by being called out on it.

By nature, I have a driver personality. That means I’m driven by results, I don’t need a whole lot of lovin’ to get to work and I’m a loner by nature.

Learning about personality styles has been a game. changer. for me and I highly recommend that you invest some time to learn about them too.

I lead with a task focus but can also get people excited…. My challenge was always KEEPING them motivated.

After a powerful pep talk, my natural tendency is to leave them be and to let them get to work and then to swoop back in for results.

I want to finish whatever we’re working on before we get to the friendly stuff.

Turns out, that crashes and burns every time and I’ve even been called a dictator for it. Ouch.

My parents both have strong driver personalities too, so it never occurred to me that I was being too harsh… That’s just our personalities. Gentle isn’t exactly in our nature.
7 Ways My Epic Failure Made Me A Better Leader

 

My Epic Leadership Failure

At the risk of sounding like the worst person ever, I had a falling out with our entire leadership board for this very organization in June of 2015 because I wanted to switch directions to focus on self-development (which is what I created the group to be from the beginning) and they wanted to continue doing social events.

It was a NASTY blow out, to the point that some of them won’t talk to me and it almost made me quit running this group.

It was so bad that I actually cried myself to sleep that night (actually kinda embarrassed to share that).

I’ve never been in a leadership position for ego purposes or because I wanted power (even though, looking back, they probably thought I was)… My heart was always in the right place and I genuinely wanted to make a difference, just my approach was ALL. WRONG.

Looking back, I realize that I was definitely dictating instead of empowering and I wasn’t clear about the direction of the organization from the beginning and so everyone had their own ideas of where it should go…. HUGE mistake.

After that blow out, I was literally afraid to step into a leadership role again and started questioning every single thing about myself.

I even almost shut down this group (which at the time was just a Meetup group).

I realized that I couldn’t just give up and that I had to keep pushing forward because my vision was bigger than my fears and if that was a weakness, I had to make it a strength.

It’s something I’ve worked really, really, really, really, really, really hard at over the past two years.

When I say I’ve worked at it really hard, I mean like I’ve read dozens of books on leadership and emotional intelligence, attended workshops and trainings and done HOURS of meditation and self-reflection to get better at it.

 

Overcoming The Failure

If you were ask our members now if they’d call me a dictator, they’ll tell you otherwise. Here’s what one of our members actually said (I was collecting testimonials for an course I was putting together and this is what she said)…

“You put all of us before you because you’re so selfless — to you, our success is your success. Thank you for being a role model — You are a role model to everyone around you. You do more than chase dreams and achieve them like other people do — you create them and then help others achieve theirs. Thank you for being a leader. Thank you for being a friend and most importantly, thank you for being Alexa. I’m so honored to have met you and be part of your journey and thank you for being part of mine.

This testimonial is one of my proudest accomplishments ever because of how hard I’ve worked to get here.

How, you ask?

I did a TON of homework…

I read endless books on leadership, attended a ton of training and allowed myself to be vulnerable to those that I lead.

What was most effective though, was learning how to have powerful conversations with them that left them feeling empowered, rather than lectured like a child.

I didn’t have to change who I am, I just had to change my approach.

Instead of being a dictator, I needed to show my heart and focus on inspiring and empowering, rather than dictating.

I had to learn that being human and vulnerable was a strength, not a weakness. 

I’ve learned how to delegate without dictating, how to hold people accountable without making them feel bullied and how to be a more inspiring leader by putting them first.

Now don’t get me wrong… Our members will definitely still tell you that I’m a little crazy because of how detailed I am but the dictator side of me has been tamed.

It’s something I still work on now and am confident that I’ve definitely made progress.

 

So, here’s what I have learned…

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