Focus on Only What You Can Do and Give the Rest Away
When asked how to define leadership in 25 words or less, Elise Mitchell paused for a moment and spoke those 12 words. No more needed to be said.
PRSA Phoenix’s Masters Special Interest Group brought Elise to town for an evening of lively discussion about leadership and to talk more about her recently released book, Leading Through the Turn. Elise and I have been friends for more than 10 years through our involvement in PRSA Counselors Academy. What I first noticed about Elise and what continues to be true today is her passion for people. And it’s that passion that has defined and redefined her leadership style throughout her career.
She is the founder and CEO of Mitchell Communications Group, one of the top 10 fastest-growing public relations firms globally. In 2012, she sold her firm and today is the leading PR agency brand in the world’s fastest-growing marketing communications company, Dentsu Aegis Network.
I first heard her reference the concept of “through the turn” at the Counselors Academy Conference I chaired in 2011. Elise rides motorcycles; through the turn refers to the way a rider anticipates what is coming next.
“Throughout the past 20 years of building my agency and ultimately selling it, one of the things that I discovered about myself is that I’m a destination person. No matter how beautiful it is where I am, I’m always looking over the horizon to see what’s next.”
Inherent in all of us is the power to be a leader – no matter where you are in your career path there are opportunities to demonstrate leadership. According to Elise, she had always been a destination leader.
“Yes, it’s good to have goals and ambitions and know where you want to be. But there was always something missing. And that’s when I realized I needed a journey mindset in order to truly be a leader.”
She offers up a few tips to being a good leader:
- Know your narrative – get good at telling your story
- Don’t be afraid to fail – learn to become a calculated risk-taker
- It’s ok not to know everything – but do everything you can to find it out, there is power in being a “learning leader”
- There is power in your team – surround yourself with people who are good at what you’re not
Her message last night and what resonated for me in her book – leaders keep pushing themselves to grow, they take on new challenges and inspire others to do the same. So lead through the turn, enjoy the journey and celebrate the destination.