While not all leadership styles are the same, FutureYou’s Managing Partner, Emily Wilson has found there are certain traits that all successful leaders share. Em’s on a mission to learn – and share – as much as she can about the leadership mindset from some of Australia’s more remarkable leaders. This week Emily enjoys the company of a rather happy Elyse Henderson, COO of AUB Group.

In this first part of their discussion, Emily Wilson and Elyse Henderson ponder what the point of it all is, and the importance of mentors in professional development.

Transcript of Part 2 – What’s the Point? & the best thing I’ve ever heard.

Emily: I recently caught up with Elyse  Henderson the COO for AUB group and what I love about Elyse’s style of leadership is her warmth and her continued thirst for learning. Elyse embraces knowledge, mentors, and is a natural teacher herself, which is what I think all good leaders are about.

You’re gonna love this next part which gives you real insight into what makes her tick

Elyse Henderson: What is the point?! The point is to be happy, isn’t it?!

Emily: And what is happy? When we say ‘to be happy’, what does happy mean to you?

Elyse Henderson: Look, I think a lot of people talk about things like work/life balance or work-life integration or whatever. I kind of don’t even care what we call it. I want to be happy when I wake up every day, when I come into work every day, or on the weekends when I’m doing with things with my family.  And that is because I feel like I’m actually working towards something that’s meaningful.  And meaning and purpose comes from lots of different places for lots of different people I know where it comes from for me, both personally and professionally, that’s what makes me feel good about getting up every day and coming into work.

Emily: What would you say your purpose is at work?

Elyse Henderson: When I.. it’s the same actually at work and personally and it’s got a lot to do with where I’ve come from in my career but also where I’ve come from in my personal life. And that’s about feeling like, for me personally, that someone’s always got my back to help me grow and develop in my role and personally, but also making sure that I’ve always got the back of my team and my family and my friends around me as well. And the reason why I say that that’s so important is that when someone fels that they’ve got the protection and the support of either a family member or a people leader or whatever, it allows them to step outside of their comfort zone and take some risks.

And that’s the only way that they can grow.

If your team or your family member doesn’t feel safe they’ll stand there with their feet on the two dry rocks all the time, because they don’t feel that they can take those risks to help them grow.  And that’s the only way we get

Emily:  I want to write that last bit down.  Can I borrow your pen or something?

Emily:  Elyse has some great insights to share and like most really strong leaders I know, she has mentors that she actively seeks out during times of transition and change.  What a great example. She invests in herself.

Elyse Henderson:  I had a mentor many years ago, a gentleman by the name of Steven White, and he shared a bit of a metaphor with me.

If you’re going across a river and there are a series of stepping stones across that river and you know, think of the river as being your life or your career or something like that. He said you never want to have your feet on to dry rocks as you crossing the river. Firstly, you’re not moving anywhere if you’ve got your feet on to dry rocks.  It’s boring. There’s no challenge. There’s no excitement there. It means that you’re actually quite safe and quite stable.You also don’t want to have your feet on two wet and slippery rocks, because what happens is you fall into the river. You’ve actually got no safety net, you had no stability.

When you’re choosing whether it’s the next step in your career or a decision that you want to take, you want to always have one foot on wet rock and one foot on a dry rock.  The foot on the dry rock is… that’s the stuff I know. That’s the experience that I’ve got.  They’re the skills that I absolutely know that I possess and that I’m really passionate about and that are really strong and deeply held within me. The wet rock is the stuff that I don’t know. So, I can slip around on that wet rock a little bit and that’s the stretch, that’s the discomfort or the learning zone.

The dry rock is the, you know, the safe zone the comfort zone. So making sure I’ve always got one foot on the wet rock where I can be a bit uncomfortable and one foot on the dry rock, which is my base. That’s always stuck with me. I thought that was a great piece of advice.

Emily: And it’s such a good analogy!

Emily:  What I love about Elyse Henderson is how she’s invested in her learning and how obviously successful these learnings have been for herself and for her team.

For part 1, Diversity & Perfection, go here

FutureYou would like to sincerely thank Elyse Henderson for her time and generous, personal sharing. 

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