Purple dinosaur

A very wise purple dinosaur taught me to "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." While I've yet to apply this to my apartment cleaning routine, I have completely changed my perspective on what it means to be a leader.

I hope that a T-Rex would be this friendly IRL.
(That's in real life for those just joining us.)

When I first accepted a team lead position at my company, I was excited to try something new and grow my skill set. Okay fine, I was nervous, too -- I like to be the best of the best (winner) and uncharted territory meant no established standards and quotas. How can I raise the bar if I don't know where it is?

At first the uncertainty brought me an incredible amount of stress and worry. I was so focused on proving that I could do this that I forgot to actually lead. Once my perspective was shifted I settled into my new responsibilities and defined my leadership role for myself; I set my own bar.

What Being a Leader Means to Me 
  1. Helping everyone on my team realize and reach their potential
  2. Being available for problem and solution discussions, both professionally and personally
  3. Encouraging my team to push themselves to be better (for themselves, not just for me)
  4. Communicating frequently and being honest in that communication
  5. Being my team's greatest advocate
Being a team lead means more to me than producing quality output. I see it as an opportunity to hand-pick people who can build the best company in the industry. If we are willing to work together, there is nothing we can't overcome. Going alone is a tough row to hoe, ya mean?

When I was young and a fresh college grad (n00b) I was under the impression that getting a job in the career field of my choice was going to be a cakewalk. What a laugh.

It took me years to not only figure out WHAT I wanted to do but WHO I wanted to be. As if figuring that out wasn't hard enough, I then had to find an environment where that wanted me accomplish both things. Needless to say, my quest for career bliss has been full of more ups and downs. I could have really used a mentor to show me the ropes. Rug burn sucks.

In the end I'm happy to have overcome so many obstacles when defining myself and my career goals: I am capable of being the mentor I never had. I'm going to push myself to offer more than just assignments and tasks to my team: I'm also going to offer encouragement, guidance, support, and concern.

I leave you with a final thought from one of my favorite Tweeps, Suzanne Zaleski (@MsSwank):

Are you pushing yourself to be your personal and professional best? Why not?