My wife is a solicitor and is General Counsel for a large company in the food industry. Yesterday, with 15 minutes notice, she was asked to stand in for the CFO to talk about leadership with a group of the company’s high-potential managers.

Having never really thought about the subject too much before, she quickly scribbled down some notes on the back of a draft contract she was working on.

This is what she said leadership means to her:

  1. Treat your team like your family. You can discuss, argue and criticize each other in private, but you support each other totally to the outside world. If your team knows and trusts that you have their back, it builds confidence, empowerment and bravery.
  2. Have the courage of your convictions. For my wife, that means providing the best possible legal advice, even when it’s not good news. For other leaders, it means taking responsibility, making clear decisions and following through on them.
  3. Be honest. As someone else once said, integrity is what you do when no-one is looking. If you don’t understand something, ask. If you’re wrong, admit it. We’re all human and most problems are fixable.
  4. Knowledge is not power. But sharing your knowledge is.
  5. Put your family first. My wife has always made time to be at the times and events that are most important to our sons, even when there was a work clash. As she said to the group, it’s your kids that choose your care home, not your boss!

I may be biased, but I think this is a great list. But what does leadership mean to you? And how do you live your leadership values day-to-day?

Off The Record: We Are Family by Sister Sledge

No, we don’t get depressed

‘Cause here’s what we call our golden rule

Have faith in you and the things you do

You won’t go wrong, this is our family jewel

We are family – I got all my sisters with me

We are family – Get up everybody and sing