What it Means to be a Good Leader

We all hear the motivational videos on YouTube and inspiring occasional addresses which tell us to be a leader.

Don’t follow the herd like a lost sheep, they say. Forge your own path, and walk down it with confidence.

The question is usually how, and to what extent.

Being a good leader though is something that can confuse even the most intelligent of minds. The vast number of leadership books, blogs, essayists, and development programs exemplifies that.

For me, I find there are four dimensions to being a good leader (perhaps even a great one). These attributes with being an authentic leader.

Self-awareness

People who are self-aware are able to understand what makes them a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ person. They understand their strengths and their limitations, and are capable of overcoming these weaknesses through effective strategy. Having a deep understanding of strengths and weaknesses allows leaders to capitalise on what makes them ‘good’, and mitigate the effects of what makes them ‘bad’.

Being self-aware also means understanding those things around us, and not being isolated in only thinking of ourselves. We can begin with our own strengths and weaknesses, and we can continue with evaluating and improving the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. After all, a leaders job is more than goal achievement, it is also to develop and make followers better people too.

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Relational authenticity

This one sounds a bit technical, but don’t be concerned as it is a lot simpler than it looks. Being authentic in relationships means being open and honest. A transparent person that others understand doesn’t get gossiped about at the water cooler, because their peers do not need to fill in the gaps in their leader’s life. When we are the same true person all the time, we do not arouse unnecessary suspicion and we can be seen as trustworthy and perhaps loyal.

We’ve all had bosses that we have not liked. They might have been somewhat friendly, but they seemed like they were only there out of necessity. They might have been hoping for a promotion to get off that floor, or maybe they were just having difficulty dealing with their teenage daughter. The point is, if we don’t know, we might be likely to make it up or make guesses, and that doesn’t make us want to like or trust someone.

Balanced processing

Again, technical jargon. This one is about the old maxim ‘think before you act’. When we process ideas and information in a balanced way, we consider all the possible information we have before making decisions. We consider our own biases, acknowledge them and try to factor them into our decisions.

Positive morals

This one seems simple, but it is sometimes difficult. We use the other three components to work this one out. After we consider information in a balanced manner, we have to develop our own moral framework. This is different for everyone, but necessarily so. Deciding what we think is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is not always easy, and we have to use our own skills to understand what we think is the best thing to do.

From this, we have a toolkit of four dimensions which allow us to be better than we were. These skills and attributes provide a necessary framework to make the normal human into a good leader.

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Young People Doing Stuff | “We Started a Feminist Podcast”

 This is the first installment in our new interview series, Young People Doing Stuff. We’re going to focus on young people making things happen for themselves, by themselves, with knowledge they worked to acquire. If you know of someone doing something that needs some recognition, email us.

Conversations around feminism and patriarchy are usually reserved for classroom talk at liberal arts colleges where professors of Gender and Women Studies are leading the conversation. And once the period ends, so does the discussion. The Left Ovaries, however, are looking to change that and keep the conversation going.

Who are The Left Ovaries? It’s the kick-ass, extremely clever, name for a feminist podcast made up of 6 twenty-something women tackling both personal and shared issues women face daily. With only a season of airtime, they’ve already explored topics regarding pornography (“Porn-O You Didn’t”), identity intersectionality (“Is Your Feminism Intersectional?”), and patriarchy (“Fu*k Patriarchy, Get Money) in addition to other topics about what it means to be a feminist in today’s culture.

The Daily Twenties had the opportunity to chat with Bianca Rosen, a 23 year old graduate student at USF, and a member of the The Left Ovaries to get the scoop on their mode of cultural engagement.

How did it all start?

We’re all actually friends from the 6th grade. It started with the three of us: Erin Breen, Shelby McNabb and myself. We also all have sisters that are close in age, so it’s the three of us plus Erin’s sister, Claire, Shelby’s sister, Mackenzie, and my sister Bella. And we’ve all been best friends growing up. 

We often found ourselves talking a lot about social issues we’re witnessing that are intertwined with gender and race and age and so many other factors. We thought, we should really start a podcast and really sit down and open these dialogues that are not solely coming from the male centered perspective that we see a lot of the time in mainstream media but really from women about women’s experiences.

On getting the ball rolling

In December 2015, I was telling a older colleague about my interests and my passion about battling gender inequality. She told me that what is most impressive to employers who are hiring is young people just going out there and starting something.

And I was thinking, I’m not going to just wait around for 20 years and hope to fall into my dream job. I want to be doing it right now. So that was the final push.

Plus my Dad is a record producer so we had the means of recording it. We figured, let’s get in the studio and do some recording and figure this out. That was January 2015 that we got the ball rolling on it and ever since it’s been going and going really well.

On how it has evolved

It definitely has evolved in that we are all struggling to find our voices as individuals. As a group we realized that when we’re talking naturally we’re always talking over each other and a lot of it is not suitable for the podcast or our audiences. So we’ve learned how to talk personally, because our podcast is rooted in personal experiences, but also professionally.

We had to learn how to be articulate but also at the same time not sound too jargon-y so people who aren’t necessarily Feminists Studies or Sociology majors can understand what we’re saying. And we really have to strike this hard balance but I really think we’ve found this voice that we’re all comfortable with and worth exploring.

How diverse is the conversation?

There’s a lot of agreement. We would probably like there to be more disagreement…I mean we don’t want to be fighting… but I think it would be interesting to see more points of view and that’s why we interview people.

And we are all white and cis-gendered people from the same demographic so we really try to acknowledge our privilege and have other people’s voices in the podcast, so we try to get different opinions that way, but in general we mostly have the same point of view. We clash maybe sometimes but rarely.

What about having a male perspective?

After our first episode a male friend approached us and asked if he could be interviewed for the show. And we found that kind of problematic. When you’re listening to a podcast with all men or you’re listening to a talkshow with all men, listeners are not like “where are the women? Where is the woman to make this a balanced conversation?”

So we haven’t had any male interviewees yet because right now we’re really focusing on people’s experiences who are left out of the dominant narrative that we see.

But we can definitely see that changing as our story evolves. For example, right now we’re working on a dating episode and we’re hoping to have someone who has experienced same-sex dating. So we’re going to have some of our male friends who date men share their experiences.

On their audience

Our audience is mostly the feminist community so we’ve gotten mostly warm reception but a lot of the time we get called out on our privilege and we always try to acknowledge and address it in our conversations but mostly we’ve had a lot of positive responses.

Our most successful social media platform is Twitter. A lot of us are constantly tapping into our networks since there’s 6 of us and we all go to different universities and programs.

We’re on iTunes and we have about 300-500 downloads per episode and we currently have 7 episodes. And our goal is to get bigger and bigger.

Where did this genius pun come from?

We thought of it when we were freshmen in high school. We made a punk band called The Left Ovaries and last year when we were thinking about a name, some brought it up and we decided that that name was gold, and we need to keep it around. So it stuck.

So what’s the future for the Left Ovaries?

We’re all passionate about the podcast and what we’re doing about battling gender inequality and just inequality in general so our hope would be to make this a career at some point. Or at least part of our careers because we all have our passions.

I’m particularly passionate about the anti-rape movement, Shelby is passionate about mobilizing women in leadership roles, so I think a lot of us want to be doing this for a while. We’re obviously doing other things at the moment, but we definitely want to see this grow to shift how people view and think about women’s experiences and influence how they’re talking about them in general.*

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You can listen toThe Left Ovaries on iTunes by following this link: http://apple.co/1RaNeI6

And you can follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLeftOvaries

And Ig: @theleftovaries

*Transcript edited for length and clarity

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The Do’s and the Don’ts of Resume Writing from a Real Toby

This past year I was the intern coordinator for my office, which meant I was forced to look at countless college students’ resumes and cover letters. And let me tell you…yikes. These were smart kids, going to schools like USC and UCLA, and while the content on their resumes were impressive, the format was awful. I saw resumes that were 5 pages long and had grammatical and spelling errors. Seriously?

Here are my top 10 dos and don’ts of resume writing.

DO keep it to one page

Unless you are in your mid-career, your resume should not exceed one page. I promise you, you aren’t doing anything that is groundbreaking enough to add a second page.

DON’T add color

Unless you are Elle Woods, your resume should be printed on white paper or nice resume paper. The type should be black and in an easy to read font, size 12ish.

Mind you, I work for the government and am not in the design or fashion industry, so this may be different in those fields. But if you are in the government or business fields, I say to stick to the basics.

DO type your name in a larger size than the rest of your resume

When your resume is in a giant pile on someone’s desk, you want your name to jump out immediately when they look at your resume.

DON’T put your high school information on your resume once you graduated

I get that you were high school student body president but you’re in college now, please move on. If you think it’s super important to you, then bring it up in your interview.

DO play up your strengths

When I applied for my first internship in college, I had had zero work experience aside from babysitting. So instead of creating a boring and empty resume, I put my leadership experience from my sorority. Even though I had no official work experience, I played up my involvement in school and ultimately got the internship. This applies for volunteer work too.

DON’T forget to add location to your work experiences

I thought this would be a given, but I saw so many resumes that didn’t have the location of their school or of their previous internships. The city and state is all you need!

DO proofread

No explanation necessary

DON’T use the wrong tense

If you used to work somewhere, make all the bullet points past tense. If you still work there, make all the bullet points present tense. 

DO have a professional email address

While surfergirl310@gmail was fun once upon a time, it’s time to look a little more professional. Stick to your first and last name in some variation.

DO save and send your resume as a PDF

A lot of the times, an employer will open up your resume from their phone. If you send it as a document, the formatting can get messed up. Make sure you send it as a PDF, so no matter what, your formatting looks like how you intended it to.

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Good luck and happy resume writing!

Ways to the Top | How to Delegate

Long ago I came to the conclusion that people are incompetent. Why ask someone else to do something you can do for yourself, especially if you know you can do it better.

Although this gets us the grade we want, we end up putting a lot of extra pressure on ourselves.

In comes delegation, a skill necessary for your personal and professional growth.

Because I’m not a CEO with 30 years of business experience, these are just some beginner steps for delegating.

Evaluate your team members

People have strong suits. They know what they’re good at; find out what that is.  If it’s a multi-faceted project, chances are everyone is going to have something to contribute to the group. Divide the work between them.

Communication is money

Clear communication is crucial from the get-go. When it comes to the project, be clear about your expectations for everyone. What do the tasks demand, when do you need deliverables, when’s it due? Lay it all out up front so there’s no misunderstandings. Have a vision for how you want it to run.

Motivate your team

When you’re in a managerial position for the first time, motivating your team members might be a little confusing and feel uncomfortable. Here are a few ways to get your message across. 

Urgency

“We need to get it done and we need to get it done now.”

There’s nothing like the anxiety of being strapped for time in a deadline project. If you can communicate the urgency, people tend to feel a personal responsibility for the completion.

Specialty

“Look, I would do it myself but I don’t feel comfortable enough to take on the responsibility. You seem to know what the task demands, and you’re actually really good at it, can you take over?”

It’s great to feel like you’re the only one capable of a task, indispensable even. Communicate their value to the project and acknowledge their expertise.

Don’t handhold

Unless it’s necessary. Trust your team to do the work they say they are going to do. You end up empowering them and allowing them to prove themselves. Schedule updates and plan to check in on their progress. Don’t be overbearing. You’d hate it if someone was breathing down your neck while you worked.

Acknowledge and appreciate

Your team just busted their ass to get work done. Acknowledge each team member’s contribution and show appreciation. Meaningful thank-you’s go a long way.

The Super Move

This one works 1 out of 3 times. Let’s say you’re in charge and you need something done. You know it’s time-consuming and you know the person you need to do the job won’t be happy about it.

Here’s what you do: you volunteer someone that will be blatantly inadequate to do the job and use reverse psychology on the group.

“Bobby, we really need to edit the images and get them up on the site. Can you show John how to use the program to do this?”

Chances are Bobby will say, “fu*k no, he’s going to ruin the pictures, I’ll just do them myself.” Voilà

Now I know that sounds manipulative but business is business. You get it done one way or another.

 

Anybody else have some ideas on delegating?