Today’s Convergence Spotlight features Sarah Sims, Program Coordinator. Sarah joined us in November 2021 and coordinates the many administrative aspects needed to keep our leadership development programs, primarily our flagship program the Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP), running smoothly.

Sarah is a vibrant, charismatic person who willingly jumps in to try something new with enthusiasm and I’m excited to share her leadership perspective with you:

ConvergenceCoaching: What is it about a leader that makes others genuinely want to follow them?

Sarah: When discussing leaders and the quality of their leadership, you can expect certain reoccurring themes to emerge. For example, how well they embody characteristics such as trustworthiness and passion or whether the leader is inspiring and deserving of respect. These qualities help determine if we want to follow someone or aspire to be more like them and make someone a great leader.

An individual’s actions play a crucial role to determine if they are trustworthy, passionate, inspiring, and respectable, and therefore whether to follow them.  The ability to make hard choices coupled with acting on those choices earns the needed trust. Passion must be driven by a true interest in those the individual leads. To be inspiring, a leader must demonstrate actions to prove they know they are working for those that follow them. Choosing to actively engage with those they are leading and creating real relationships develops respect and understanding.

ConvergenceCoaching: Whose leadership style do you admire most and why?

Sarah: I have always had an admiration for Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela. He exhibited numerous leadership qualities that demonstrated a combination of charisma, transformation, inspiration, and willingness to be a servant. He fought the good fight against injustice, he encouraged, and he was committed, he continued to motivate and influence even through his 27 years of imprisonment. While his leadership can be viewed as controversial, his choices focused on the needs of others, he stood for unity, he remained eager to learn and he accepted his shortcomings by remembering he was only human.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

      -Nelson Mandela

ConvergenceCoaching: What is the most challenging part of being a leader? What is your advice for successfully overcoming this challenge?

Sarah: There are many observable challenges to being a leader, like delegating, communicating, and juggling all the things that go into “holding down the fort.”  However, I believe that the greatest challenge to being a leader is an internal job, self-awareness. I believe that one of the most challenging parts of being a leader is how well you must know yourself. Genuinely knowing oneself allows you to really be in touch with the sometimes selfish motivators guiding your choices. If you are uncertain of your own personal strengths and weaknesses, can you be certain that you are leading in the best and most effective way? A leader must improve their weakness while utilizing their strengths. Having a deep self-awareness allows a person to feel more grounded, be more emotionally aware, develop stronger boundaries, set, and achieve personal growth goals, and to also take responsibility for shortcomings.

My advice for overcoming this challenge is to seek feedback.  This feedback should come from those in positions below, equal to, and superior to you. This allows you to gain insight to how others perceive your strengths along with your areas of improvement. Receiving feedback can reveal patterns of behavior, how you react to situations and keep you open to suggestions. Being able to see yourself through another’s eyes can provide insight into how you handle your emotions, your communication style and leadership approach.

ConvergenceCoaching: Do you believe that great leaders are born or made? Why?

Sarah: Dr. Judith Stern, founder of NAASO said, “Genetics loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.” I feel that this concept applies to leadership skills. While genetics are predetermined, the environment is where great leaders become developed, trained, shaped, and made. Being shy or outgoing, introverted, or extroverted, socially awkward, or charismatic and a person’s exposure to circumstances, diversities, and experiences all play a role in their leadership development. If a person can remain open and teachable, the trigger will be pulled, and a leader will be born!

ConvergenceCoaching: Do you have a favorite movie or book that you feel exemplifies what it means to be a great leader?

Sarah: The past two years have heavily impacted people in a multitude of ways including but certainly not limited to their mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Many people have faced challenges they weren’t certain they could make it through. During this time, most of us have had to turn to someone for guidance or comfort, one of those is likely in some sort of leadership position. While I had many of these conversations, I found my comfort in Ted Lasso, a new series found on Apple TV.

Ted, an American football coach, is offered the position to coach an English football (soccer) team. The owner of the soccer team, a very scorn woman, brought Ted on with hopes of him failing miserably costing her ex-husband millions. Throughout the series, Ted remains vulnerable and honest about his insecurities and stays transparent to his team. He makes the hard decisions, the decisions that are best for the team, regardless of making the team and fans angry.  Through his own trial and error, he is an advocate for self-care and self-awareness, allowing him to be mentally and emotionally available and present to those following him.

A great deal of the show is based on the deception stemming from the club owner. One of the highlights of the show is watching the effect Ted has on her and the transformation she undergoes. Ted is full of optimism, wisdom, and is a stickler for keeping his commitments. His optimism allows for him to admit when he is wrong or has made an error in judgment and his wisdom allows him to offer true forgiveness. Ted’s ability to commit allows the team to build trust, confidence, and respect in him. Ted and the members of his team experience a handful of personal and team struggles, ranging from divorce to losing sponsors. But they – and we (the audience) -- can always count on Ted to make us laugh, bring about a different perception, generate solutions, and make us laugh again.

I could write many more paragraphs about the spectacular leadership skills that Ted Lasso exhibits, but I will end with saying that watching Ted Lasso made me want to be the best version of myself, for myself and for those in my life. It is amazing that one TV show could have this much impact on a person, but that is what great leaders do, they leave their mark.

While I am impressed by Sarah’s witty leadership insights about Ted Lasso and look forward to her future blog on the matter, I want to reiterate something Sarah said that stopped me in my tracks, “Having a deep self-awareness allows a person to feel more grounded, be more emotionally aware, develop stronger boundaries, set and achieve personal growth goals, and to also take responsibility for shortcomings.” It is the idea that being vulnerable with your team and asking for feedback is not a weakness but a strategy and a commitment to do better, be better, and to leave a lasting positive impression.

Until next time,