PODCAST: The internal work that the best leaders do

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Everyone has their own perspective on leadership. But your impact as a leader can be much more meaningful if you’ve done the work on yourself first.

“So often we talk about what a leader does, the quality of leadership and things like casting vision,” said Tiffany Crosby, CPA, OSCPA’s director of learning, “But really you have to first understand who you are.”

Crosby joined us on the latest episode of the State of Business podcast to discuss getting to the heart of individual leadership and the work that process requires. She said the first step is introspection.

While some might view introspection as a waste of time, Crosby said when done correctly, it can lead to revealing results. Make space in your schedule to think about what's important to you and why. Consider the things that resonate with you, such as a style or personality and what that means to you when leading others.

Crosby suggested finding a friend or colleague who can be honest with you about your faults and flaws, and to be aware the conversation might make you uncomfortable. Remember: you’re looking to improve your skills, not be lauded with compliments, so don’t be upset if your friend tells you something that doesn’t reflect positively on you. This was something Crosby eventually had to confront.

“I had some situations where I've had to go back and say that it wasn't really as much of an idiosyncrasy or outlier as I would have liked to believe,” she said. “That it truly did reflect who I was, and it was reflecting something about me that I needed to work on. I really couldn't show up in an authentic way until I dealt with those things that I really don't want people to see.”

This type of work is ongoing, Crosby said; there will never be a time when there’s nothing left to improve upon. But most likely your biggest work will be in the beginning of this process, and as you continue to grow you will make smaller tweaks and adjustments over time.

“It's kind of like peeling an onion,” she said. “There's layers to it, and you identify things and you improve, and you work on those things. And then you identify additional things and the work is never done.”

It can be easy to write this type of work off as reserved for only those with lofty leadership aspirations, but Crosby said this can apply to anyone, and in fact, more people should consider it.

“Because leadership and leading is not really about a title, or position,” she said. “It really is about influence. And so, I would say anyone who has influence over anyone else, is really in a leadership role. So, it's not whether you're a leader, but what type of leader you are.”

Listen to the episode now and check out our full list of episodes.

Related:

OSCPA offers a variety of courses on leadership. Learn more.

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