My FIGGI Life with Jeanne

Lessons Learned From Leaders & Bosses

Episode Summary

Jeanne delves into her professional history and highlights the key lessons (good and bad) she's learnt from bosses she worked for and leaders she worked with.

Episode Notes

Jeanne makes it clear in this episode that there are lessons to be learnt from both good and bad bosses. She speaks against the notion that there is nothing to be learnt from bad bosses. Jeanne acknowledges that we’ve all had the horrible boss that broke our souls and traumatized us emotionally. Not all leaders are made equal. However, we do learn from them all. Whether this experience was positive or negative, they did, in fact, shape us in some way.

Jeanne has been in the entrepreneurial space for over a decade, and she still holds true to these valuable lessons she learned from the leaders that shaped her into the businesswoman she is today. Not all of these experiences were positive fairy tales, and she had many days when she came home crying and dreading the fact that she needed to go back to “that place” tomorrow. However, she's learned from this. Some of these lessons were extremely hard, but this did not make them any less effective.

Here are the 5 most significant lessons she's learned from previous bosses and other leaders, good and bad, who she worked for and with in her career.

Links and Information

Jeanne Retief: FIGGI Beauty Shop | My FIGGI Life Blog | My FIGGI Life Podcast | Instagram

Blog post: 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From Previous Bosses

Episode Transcription

[00:00:00.810] - Jeanne

Hello again, FIGGI goddess, and welcome to the My Figgi Life podcast. So today I'm going to talk a little bit about my experiences from my old life in my human rights consultancy, the project development, the program development, the mentorship I did, and just the things that I've learned in a professional space from previous leaders and bosses that I've worked with that have really made an impact in my life and continues to make an impact in my life and how I handle and approach my business relationships with others and how I build business relationships. So maybe there's something in here that speaks to you or maybe there's something in here that doesn't speak to you. But if you're interested to know what I've learnt and how I apply that, then stay tuned.


[00:00:58.210] - Intro

Welcome, Goddess, to your sacred space. This is the My FIGGI Life podcast where we openly discuss life's wins and losses on our journeys to self-discovery. This is your best life. This is your FIGGI life. And now here is your host, Jeanne.


[00:01:19.690] - Jeanne

We're talking about some key leadership lessons that I've learned in my life, as I like to call it. Also, my old life and how I still continue to apply these. And I think it's one of my biggest pet peeves when people believe that they have learned nothing from bad leaders. We've all had the horrible boss that broke our souls and traumatized us emotionally. Not all leaders are made equal. Unfortunately, however, we do learn from them all. Whether your experience with this leader in your life was positive or negative, they did in fact shape you in some way, even if it was to teach you how not to act or what not to do. I've been in the entrepreneurial space for over 15 years and I'm still beholden to the valuable lessons I've learned from the leaders that shaped me into the business women I am today. And all of these experiences were experiences, even though not all of these were positive fairy tales. And I had many days when I came home crying and dreading the fact that I needed to go back to that place tomorrow. However, I've learned from this and some of these lessons were extremely hard to learn, but this didn't necessarily make them less effective.


[00:02:53.200] - Jeanne

So here are some of the things that I've learned, both good and bad, with people whom I've worked with and for in my career. I really still return to these basics when I'm stuck. I think the most important lesson that I've probably learned is respect is earned. And we hear this so much, we read about this so much, but I often think that we don't really internalize how important that message is. In my experience building high performing teams, I've often worked with many types of leaders. Many of these had distinct belief that they reign supreme to the team, that their time is more valuable, and that they deserve respect for respect's sake. This is the single most destructive thing that you can do to your team. Because although there should be healthy boundaries and evident concern for your position of power, this respect ultimately needs to be earned. You can never expect someone to give you most of their life best efforts, skills and time if you're constantly making it clear that you are somehow they're better or they should be grateful for the time you deem to gift them. Treating people with a basic level of respect goes a long way towards them respecting you and ultimately motivating them to believe in your mission.


[00:04:16.950] - Jeanne

When you occupy the space of a leader, you are in a position of power. And yes, with that power comes responsibility. This is, by the way, without fail the thing that always rattles most leaders and puts them on a solid track to hating my guts when I say this. So unfortunately, everybody wants to be the boss until they are. It's not easy. And the balance you have to strike between good people skills and the best interests of the company or project is a fickle one. It's also worth remembering that we are not all destined to be on the same path for the rest of our lives. Who you treat with respect now guide, motivate and Lead may be your new client one day, your partner, or a fabulous connection for new business people. Always remember who treated them well and where they learned and gained the most. So make sure you're on the right side where they are happy to recommend you or refer to you one day. Should employees stay, you ultimately want them to be there because they are motivated to be there. If they aren't, their work output will be dismal, impacting your team's productivity.


[00:05:30.470] - Jeanne

And employees who feel respected just end up doing more, risking more, and giving more. The second lesson I've learned is definitely the most difficult one for me. And I want to preface this by saying all of these lessons I've learned and that I still use today are not at all things that I have perfected. I fail at these all the time. All the time. My I would say progress in this really is that I honestly do try to remind myself to keep trying. All of these things are things that I work at every single day. I did not find the magic recipe here, okay? I did not find the bag of magic beans that makes everything better. These are just my take on things and things that I've witnessed make the biggest difference. This one is difficult even now. And that is you have to make you have to make the hard decisions. You know, of course, respect is a two-way street. And even if you're the best leader in the world, you won't always work with people who have the same business ethic as you do or are as motivated by your purpose or mission as you are.


[00:06:44.130] - Jeanne

So not every employee will respect you, and they may even continuously push all your wrong buttons. Your duty as a leader is to lead with this efficiently and decisively before it negatively affects the rest of the team. So although it's your responsibility as a leader to make sure you allow each employee to learn through their mistakes, coach and guide them, and teach them new skills, there is also truth to the idiom that you can only lead the horse to water but cannot make a drink. It's always so interesting to me how quickly leaders can get hung up on the horrible mistakes the good employee made while completely ghosting over another inexcusable incident created by another team member. That always seems to be causing discord. And this is primarily because they don't want to get into it again with this team member. But avoiding the content conflict created by this team member often leads to the breakdown of the rest of your team. The motivated members give their all without asking anything in return. They believe in your mission with a single minded focus and bring you the best work output. But these troubled children rarely face decisive action or discipline for various reasons.


[00:08:01.840] - Jeanne

It's tough times. You can't just let somebody go. You don't want to be responsible for taking someone's livelihood away, or you feel it's necessary to just give them that one last chance. Gosh. Let me be clear. This is nonsense. You are the one that makes the tough decisions. Your team looks to you to lead them with a clear vision, to support them, and to look out for their best interests. They spend most of their waking life in your office, working towards your goals and your dreams. Think of all the others who would do anything to work for you, to have a job that needs income. Think of all the others out there who do anything to work for you, who are desperate for an income, desperate to prove themselves. There is always someone who needs a break, who's waiting in the wings for their turn to shine. So make the tough decisions when you need to, and be a leader your team can count on, she says, while still struggling herself with this one. One of the other key lessons that I've learned, and I hold very close to my heart, is boundaries. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.


[00:09:13.990] - Jeanne

Setting clear boundaries doesn't mean you're a dictator, depending on how you go about this, of course. But setting boundaries gives your team explicit instruction on what you expect from them, what is acceptable and what is not, and what their future at the company looks like. When leaders are too lenient, people will take advantage of that, as any of us will do in similar situations. Unfortunately, that's just human nature. It's complicated to set and implement boundaries later when there are no clear boundaries. At the beginning, and I saw this so many times in companies and teams that I've helped where leaders want to create a casual working environment, flat management structures, and social working vibes. To be clear here, I'm not suggesting that all sense of enjoyment should be drained from the working space, but it's difficult to establish a productive workplace if you don't set the direction or are unclear about what you expect from your employees. Employees become frustrated with other team members they feel do not have the same work ethic or motivation they do, and introducing new roles and policies becomes contentious, and keeping the team happy becomes almost impossible. We all do better in a secure environment where we understand what is expected of us and always know the consequences.


[00:10:43.240] - Jeanne

If we or others don't meet these expectations. The next one is to teach, and we often forget that. To put it as bluntly as possible, leadership is not for you if you're not into teaching and sharing knowledge. I'm sure I've rattled many cages with this sentence, but that doesn't change the truth. We do best when we are challenged, when we're learning new things, evolving, growing. When we stagnate, we become demotivated and depressed and despondent. The chances are, if you are in this position of power, you hold an immense amount of knowledge you can share, and taking the time to invest in sharing your expertise with other employees has such a huge payoff. Ultimately, we are all chasing time. And the more things you take off your plate and can entrust to others without the need to micromanage, the more time you have to pursue your own growth and the vision you have for your company. Now, just a hint here if you think it's impossible not to micromanage because too many mistakes occur, then I have two harsh truths to share with you. Here. One you are not managing your team effectively with the right style and the right approach, considering the different strengths that the different people in your team bring to the team.


[00:12:07.180] - Jeanne

Or you have the wrong people doing the wrong work. And that's why you need to micromanage, moving on, barking out orders and expecting employees to blindly follow them. That's not teaching. This can be so discouraging, especially for super stark team members who want to be there and want to learn. And people respond better when you explain why you are asking for something to be done in a certain way than if you just throw out blind orders with no rhyme or reason. Although the reason may be apparent to you. Your team may need to understand why this is done in a specific way, so they may be better able to act more effectively the next time this is required or even suggest better ways to do this in the future. And this all goes back to having a healthy dose of respect for your employees, so you can see how these things tend to come full circle. The last thing I've learned, and this is the lesson that I think I am. The happiest that I learned is that disagreements are good. There is a respectful way to argue and disagree, and explosive exchanges are not to be encouraged.


[00:13:27.180] - Jeanne

But leading a team that's expected to always blindly agree with you doesn't serve anywhere. There is always room for leaders to grow and learn and see things differently and seek new perspectives. This makes a good team great and gives a company the edge they need to compete with others in the market. Groups in constant fear of disagreeing with the leader, voicing opinions, or suggesting new things are stagnant and ideas will wither and die. But having healthy debates about new ideas and encouraging your team to motivate why they disagree with you, or your take is a fertile breeding ground for creative solutions to very complex problems. However, this will never naturally happen if team members are scared of the leader and the company has a culture of listening for listening's sake only, not for implementation. This will inevitably discourage team members from sharing as they feel their ideas are constantly heard and passed over. So be open. Leaders should open themselves up to debate every now and again, and you may be surprised by the results that follow. Some of these lessons I learned from great visionaries, in my opinion, who had a helping hand in shaping me into the business professional I am today.


[00:14:42.300] - Jeanne

Leaders who had so much patience with me while I was still shaping the basis, who I wanted to be as a professional, and what I ultimately wanted that identity to look like. Other lessons on this list were learned on the battlefield of unhappy workplaces, verbally and emotionally abusive bosses and clients. Although some of these lessons were learned through good experiences and other through bad experiences, they all impacted me and helped me and taught me and guided me to understand what I wanted to stand for and what I did not want to stand for as a leader. I hope these lessons I don't know have helped you in some way. I would love for you to share with me the lessons that you've learned along the way. Comment in the blog post or send me an email. Reach out to me via the website. Follow this episode, share it and as always, remember we all deserve to celebrate the Goddess within. So, I wish you love and I wish you light goodbye for now. Go to now and subscribe to our newsletters so that you're aware of the latest podcast, episodes, blog posts and FIGGI news.