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When I moved into a new leadership role less than a year ago, it prompted a time of reflection, as most career changes often do. Do my past experiences really prepare me for leadership in an emerging food-tech company? The answer is yes: the combination of serenity and unexpected life lessons has been a welcome, guiding light.
I have learned that there is no limited set of qualities that make a good leader, but rather a range of experiences that contribute to a leadership style that fits each individual. Here are my tips for tapping into those experiences and lessons.
1. You don’t need to be the topper in the class
When I was little, being a fairly straightforward student was not my main source of inspiration. I was more interested in things happening outside of the classroom – my social life and extracurriculars were more exciting.
I started playing competitive sports at age 13 and became an avid cyclist, which taught me a lot of life lessons that translate to becoming a leader today. I still draw many parallels in my leadership style from my athletic experiences today, so my advice to other entrepreneurs is to look at the areas you excelled in in your early years – whether it was academics, athletics or otherwise – And uncover experiences that shape your character. Did you learn self-discipline and mental fortitude, how to cope with pain and bounce back after failure, or how to be confident and never give up when faced with resistance or opposition? They are your leadership force.
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2. Embrace your culture and environment
Before starting my senior year of high school, I attended a forex program and was fortunate enough to travel to the US to complete high school, assimilate me into a new culture and meet lifelong friends. Experience meeting. A year later, I had to return to Israel to join the military, as it is compulsory for all men and women. It was time to embrace and re-adapt the next experience my life had in store for me. In a sense, the military was really an extension of my cycling time. I had to stay disciplined and structured, eat healthy and maintain a sleep schedule so that I could meet the physical demands of being a soldier and then an officer with the special forces. I experienced a strong sense of community and a team-centered atmosphere. It taught me the importance of maintaining strong bonds and relationships with my peers and always standing in someone’s corner.
The advice here isn’t that you need to move to a different country or join the military to be a leader, but instead draw inspiration from your environment – be it cultural, social or geographic. See your time in new places or new experiences as an opportunity to grow and learn, and embrace your environment as a means to build meaningful skills that will someday prove invaluable. These experiences can make you more adaptable, well-rounded and more accepting of change.
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3. Find your motivation and set your goal early
When I first started my career three decades ago, I was an entry-level employee with no direct industry experience. I was looking forward to entering my first job but soon I found out that I was very low on the totem pole. I didn’t like that feeling and it helped me determine what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to be the CEO. I wanted to be invited to important meetings and make big decisions.
Determining your motivation as a leader or entrepreneur is essential—for me, it was a fusion of creativity and responsibility, and for others, it could be a whole host of things. If you can tap into that driving factor in challenging times, you’ll be reminded of what set you on your way the first time around.
4. Trust Your Gut, Even If You’re Not Ready for Change
One of the biggest challenges of being a leader at any level is sitting in the uneasiness of a new experience. Making a career change or diving into a new business opportunity can be intimidating in executive leadership roles. We often ask ourselves, “Why would I leave the stability of my current role” or “What if it doesn’t work out?”
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One day, I found an article about douxmatok, a food tech company based in Israel that was developing a sugar reduction solution, and I remember saying, “It’s really interesting.” Two weeks later, I got a serious call from a headhunter who was looking to fill the position of CEO for Doxmatok. I had no intention of leaving my current job, but there was something inside me telling me to pursue this new leadership role – so I followed my guts. And that’s my closing advice to other leaders and entrepreneurs: Follow your gut. Whether it’s battling the uncertainties of working for a startup or working through the challenges that a more established, larger corporation can present, you can’t just refer to past leaders or situations as the blueprints of success. can do. Being an innovator in your field means making your own decisions and believing that your gut will lead you in the right direction.
Being a successful leader looks different to everyone. What is important is harnessing your life experiences and your strengths to develop a leadership style that suits you, and building a team that compliments your strengths where you fall short.
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