Often leaders reflect on moments in their lives that were significant in shaping their careers, or a lesson that they have learned somewhere along their journey.

 If given the opportunity, I believe most leaders would be happy to share those insights so that others can learn from them. I had the chance to speak with Naina Desai, Head of Revenue Growth Management and Bottler Strategy at Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages recently, and discussed this scenario with her insights.

Interview Summary

JH: Naina, you have had such a distinguished professional career that has allowed you to see things from a global leadership perspective. If you could share one insight that remains true no matter what profession, age, gender, or culture, what would that lesson be? 

ND: Although there are many to chose from, the most significant insight I could provide is the understanding that leadership is a journey. There are no secret formulas and no easy answers. Instead, think of the journey by way of experiences, self-reflection, coaching, mentoring, and sometimes (this is my favorite comment fro Naina), you just have to learn from the school of hard knocks! Embrace these factors as a life-long journey to better understanding yourself and others around you that creates a mindset of never settling for just good enough. 

JH: This journey you talk about; is it always on a continuous path, or does it plateau or stagnate at some point? 

ND: I would hope that a leader would embrace a growth mindset and continue the journey throughout life. The impact on continuous growth and avoiding stagnation is how you and your teams will continue to evolve. By pushing for growth and not settling, you end up “flexing those leadership muscles,” and this, in the end, helps yourself, the team, and the organization, to become better both personally and professionally. 

Key Leadership Takeaways:

  1. Recognize that the dynamic if growth vs. fixed mindset is very real, and as a leader, there should be times where you look into the mirror and reflect upon your journey and if you are still embracing the all-important growth mindset. 
  2. Experiences, self-reflection, coaching, and mentoring are essential ingredients in ensuring your leadership performance will continue to be enhanced throughout your career. 

Leader Action Plan:

  1. It is vital that as a part of your steward leadership, you (the leader) ensure that the members on your team are given these lessons, and you spend time discussing the importance of the journey. 
  2. Do not rob young leaders for the chance to have real-world experiences, to be mentored, to have a coach, and to learn the art of self-reflection. Teaching is leading! 

What are your thoughts on the “journey” of leadership? Please post your comments below and let us begin building a tribe of people who have a passion for followership, mentorship, and leading!