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I spent over an hour dangling from a cliff, and this is what I learned about leadership - blogpost cover
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I spent over an hour dangling from a cliff, and this is what I learned about leadership

Written by Pieter Mijnendonckx on 6 January 2020 for Professionals

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to join one of our Grow Smart kickoff weekends? Well, our digital growth marketeer Pieter Mijnendonckx recently found out first hand. He shared his key take aways in a LinkedIn article, which you can read right here… 

Okay, I might have gone a little bit overboard on the title but it’s the 21st century, that’s what marketeers do in order to get your attention. Anyway, on with the blogpost.

I joined Exellys two years ago. I really like my job but one of the best parts (besides getting to work in with an awesome team every day) is the quantity and quality of the training I get. After successfully completing the first two-year Start Smart program that focusses on bringing young graduates to a professional level in June, I finally got a taste of the next step.

I spent over an hour dangling from a cliff and this is what I learned about leadership

Last October, I kicked off my Exellys Grow Smart Program with a weekend in the Belgian Ardennes. Grow Smart is a two-year customizable leadership program that is focused on tech, innovation and business. During these first three days we worked with Outward Bound and used outdoor (read: of your comfort zone) activities as a learning tool. For those who made it this far, although I might’ve slightly exaggerated, I wasn’t lying about the rock climbing.

During these couple of days, I learned a lot about leadership, management and of course myself. Here are three lessons learned that are (in my humble opinion) worth sharing.

#1 Do what you do but know what you did

Tackling challenges the way you tackle them might seem obvious for yourself but that doesn’t mean this is true for the rest of the group. Your preferred way of doing things might be completely different than that of the team you are guiding.

Just keeping this in the back of your mind alone can improve your leadership skills dramatically. If you’re too conscious about your behavior this will probably impact your authenticity but giving context to certain actions when they take place might be a good intermediate step to make sure everyone understands what you’re doing and why.

#2 You don’t have to go first to be a good leader

Having the top position in the hierarchy doesn’t mean you have to have the answer to every question. It’s not your job to know it all, it’s your job to put your team in the position in which they’ll achieve the most. This doesn’t require you to come up with the entire plan. This requires you to be the person who maintains a bird’s eye view and who knows everyone’s strengths (and pitfalls) to make sure these strengths are fully utilized.

If you fail to say I don’t know or I don’t understand when you actually need to, you’ll diminish the intelligence of your team. Also, the answers you so desperately need won’t come to you because nobody thinks you need them. If you accept that a lot of people know a lot more about certain topics than you do and you’re willing to embrace that knowledge, that’s the point when the group of people you’re working with becomes a team.

#3 A good leader is a good listener

Chaos and demotivation spreads like wildfire, so being able to grasp and define the needs of a group is crucial. If everyone is on track, you’ll achieve more. But knowing when this isn’t the case isn’t always easy, especially if you have your eyes on the goal. This is why that bird’s eye view I mentioned earlier is so important. I recently had the opportunity to listen to a keynote by Keith Coats and he used the analogy of the balcony and the dance floor to illustrate why this is often a problem with newly appointed leaders.

This is something you can develop but you’re probably going to have to learn from your mistakes.

Future-fit digital leaders

Thank you An Siebens (Exellys) & Dirk De Vilder (Outward Bound) for the three inspiring days. I’m beyond excited to see where this journey to become a future-fit digital leader will take me.

Get out of your comfort zone

Are you inspired by Pieter’s story and do you believe that you have what it tales to become an Exellyst? Head over to our website and discover our approach.

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We’re looking forward to meet you!

Written by Pieter Mijnendonckx Digital Growth Marketeer