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What Have Your Most Valuable Relationships Taught You About Being a Leader?

5 Leadership Lessons I've Learned Outside of the Office


The end of the year can feel like a blur: We’re winding down the quarter at work while ramping up the festivities and family time at home. Children are enjoying a break from school. Many of us host or travel to family and loved ones. And we’re making plans and resolutions for the year ahead. 


This holiday season, I’m reflecting on the impact the relationships I’ve had outside of the office have had my professional journey. Being connected to the people around me has helped me clarify and cling to what I value most, and it has continued to impact how I think about communication, partnership, culture, and success.  

 As we look ahead to the new year, I’d love to share a few things that I’ve learned about being a more conscious and thoughtful leader. My hope is that this may help you as you’re preparing for 2024. 


  1. We have a responsibility to understand and clearly articulate what is enduringly important to us. Whether you’re serving on a PTA, the captain of a sports’ team, involved in your homeowners’ association, or an executive, there are people looking to you to define the vision, the direction, and what matters most about the way you live or work. Every organization, team, and community have their own microculture, and as a leader, you hold the playbook for culture—so it’s critical that you’re clear on your core values.   

  1. We must define ourrhythms and be consistent. As you’re establishing daily routines with your family, coordinating volunteers for a community event, or establishing and refining processes and culture in an organization, it’s important to provide consistency and routine. That doesn’t mean we can’t be flexible or accommodate the needs of the people around us, but it’s critically important to establish and stick to rhythms that work for you and your team. And if you’re faced with challenges or crisis, these rhythms will provide stability and security.   

  1. What we say and how we act matters, both at the office and outside of it. If you’re in a position of any kind of influence, people around you take their cues from you. As a scout leader, the troop members take their cues from you. If you’re serving on the board of a nonprofit, you have the opportunity to guide how they live out their mission and impact the community. And as a leader, your team is looking to you to define next steps, help them resolve conflict and challenging situations, and establish a baseline of success. To my earlier point, this is a key part of why it’s essential to be clear on the principles that guide you.  

  1. As long as we are interacting with other humans, love is part of the equation. I know some of you may have bristled at the word love in the context of leadership. If you did, replace it with “appreciation,” “value,” “compassion,” “kindness,” or any other synonym that suits you. Whatever you prefer, practicing and demonstrating love will dramatically improve your relationships, your ability to collaborate, and your effectiveness—in every area of your life.  

  1. We must honor our partnerships by working together for the common good. In your neighborhood, your friend group, and your greater community, it’s critical that you consider the impact your actions can have on the people around you.  As you work alongside others—both at home and in the workplace—you must demonstrate respect and give value to the input and experience of the people you are interacting with. As senior leaders, this means you can’t shy away from thoughtfully considering your peers and parallel team, as well as the entire organization, just as much as you think about the interests of your direct reports or specific business unit.  


As 2023 comes to a close, I hope you are able to take some time to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned from your community and other valuable relationships around you. We are formed as leaders throughout our lives—and our presence in the workplace is a reflection of our experiences throughout our lives. Remember some of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years and consider how you might integrate it into your goals and resolutions for 2024.  


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