How performing has improved my leadership skills

My career journey has been an interesting one. Some people are gifted with the clarity of knowing exactly what they want to do when they grow up. That was not me. 🙂 I loved learning, trying new things and I had a heavy fear of missing out, so I changed my mind a thousand times before finally landing on Computer Science. After graduating from university, I have worked mostly in IT, but I’ve also taught math and music, learned languages (French & Italian) and spent a few years working as a professional singer. While this path might seem odd, it matches the core of who I am and looking back I can’t imagine things unfolding any better. Everything I’ve done so far has led to my growth as a leader.

When I returned to IT over 4 years ago (where does the time fly?!), I learned how to rebuild myself. How to observe, ask questions and understand the massive change that was happening inside and around me. I finally listened to my own voice and started to step into my own power. Today I’m acting in a Director role where I get to use all of the leadership skills I’ve developed over time. What’s at the top of that list? Active listening and curiosity. Second? Knowing myself. Third? Empowering the people around you to be their best.

1 – Active listening and curiosity. As a performer, one of the key things you must do to be successful is listen with curiosity – to your teachers and coaches, to your colleagues on stage, to the Directors of a production, and last but not least, your inner voice and instincts. My intuition was a constant guide for me with music and I’m grateful to all of my teachers and colleagues for the time I spent expanding my voice, growing as a performer and actively listening to perform at my best during a show. It is a magical thing when everything comes together in a performance with a live audience, especially in Opera. Holy complex project with all the people!! 🙂 I learned how to hone this skill well when I was performing regularly and also how to balance listening to myself and others at the same time.

2 – Knowing myself. As a girl from a small place, becoming an executive was the last thing I ever thought would happen. I had big dreams as a child and a huge imagination, but I never truly thought any of it would become a reality. Fostering my love of learning was key, especially as I grew up and began looking inward to better understand myself and my strengths and weaknesses. This summer, I attended a leadership program that allowed me to explore who I am as a leader, and why I am a leader. I learned about the importance of using my strengths to maximize positive outcomes, while not losing sight of my weaknesses. This insight gives me the knowledge of where my blind spots are so that I may surround myself with different perspectives and skills to maximize the outputs of my teams and celebrate diverse ways of thinking. Through exploration of ourselves we can learn a lot about what we value, what triggers us, and how to not let our egos get out of line.

3 – Empowering people around you. This circles back to 1&2. You can’t empower others if you don’t listen to them, or if you don’t know yourself well enough to manage how you respond to others. If you don’t know someone as a human – what they value and what makes them tick – how can you effectively work with them and learn to trust them as part of your team? (Back to #2, do you know this about yourself?) This points to the value of developing professional connections at the human level, regardless of someone’s job title. I also believe in developing trust through transparency, action and being real. It is challenging to give feedback to someone, to set boundaries based on your own needs and to be kind when we feel threatened or triggered. These types of situations aren’t easy, but they are worth navigating and learning from, and they get easier with time and practice. Be curious with your colleagues, listen to them, value what they have to contribute and invite them to participate in discussions. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll expand your own knowledge and perspectives along the way.

Does this resonate with any of you? What does good leadership look like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays to you all! 🎶

About Melanie Anderson

Singer, basketball player, scotch enthusiast, Canadian.
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2 Responses to How performing has improved my leadership skills

  1. Jane Fritz says:

    So proud of you, Melanie. ❤️


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