A few weeks ago, I attended The Global Leadership Summit. It’s an annual leadership conference hosted every August by the Global Leadership Network. I’ve attended every year since 2012. Now, before you think I’m super committed to my leadership development, you should know it’s my job to host a site for this conference and to encourage other greater NY-area churches and nonprofits to host or attend as well. Although, it is an event that I actually look forward to every year, and it’s a key conference that has significantly shaped my personal leadership.

This year, I was reminded that our leadership truly matters. I believe John Maxwell was spot-on when he said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” At the core of leadership is influence, and the world is in desperate need of values-based leadership. We see it in every aspect of life, from the living room to the classroom to the boardroom.

There have been many ways I’ve invested in my leadership: attending conferences, reading books, gleaning from mentors, and learning through leading others. In my 30-year professional career, most of my roles have been in leadership positions. I’ve learned that people are at the heart of leadership. While most people may wake up thinking of how they will get a job done, I wake up thinking about how my leadership will impact the people I’m leading. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for results, and there was a time in my leadership journey when results mattered more than anything. I love goals, and I love accomplishing goals even more. Anyone who knows me can attest that “DONE” is my favorite word.

At some point though, developing people and adding value to people and organizations became my primary focus as I began to see how I was developing and being influenced by my leaders. In 30 years, I’ve had several leaders impact me the most because they are who Jim Collins calls “Level Five” leaders.

Another leader influenced me significantly because of their poor leadership. The leaders who invested in me as a person made the most impact. The leader who was only concerned about what I could accomplish for the bottom line impacted me too. I felt the negative impact of a leader who wasn’t invested in the people they were leading. I saw the negative impact on the team and the organization of that type of leadership and decided that was not the type of leader I wanted to be.

Over time, I developed a vision for my leadership. I want to encourage every leader to develop a vision for their leadership. It will take intentionality to decide what type of leader you want to be and what type of leader you don’t want to be.  Once you have a vision, then you can develop a plan to become that leader. As my mentor, Frances Hesselbein, says, “Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.”

Back to this year’s Global Leadership Summit, after spending two days hearing from world-class leaders, I was full. So full that at the end of the two days, I sat down and began to cry. All that was poured into me began to overflow in my heart. As I closed my eyes, I began to see a vision of how much I could grow in one year as a leader if I applied the smallest measure of all I learned over the two days of the conference. I cried tears of joy and tears of hope. I saw a leader that would be so much better for the people I lead and for the organizations I lead in, and my tears turned into a smile. I emerged from those two days with a fresh vision for my leadership.

Now the work continues with focus and intentionality. I must acknowledge the places where I need to grow and be stretched by adapting new practical leadership skills and by being inspired to be better. Keeping in mind always that leadership is a journey and our leadership matters.

Annette Cutino
Director, Advance