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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Kippes

It Won't Grow If You Don't Water It

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What does a leader look like to you? What do they sound like? What do they care about? What characteristics do they have? What stereotypes do they exemplify?

If you had asked me these questions early on in my career, I would never have described someone how looked like me.

The leaders at the organizations that I worked at were almost exclusively men, most of them white, all of them Boomers. No wonder I couldn’t imagine myself in their shoes. They never would have fit right!

As the face of leadership has changed over the past decade, I’m starting to see more faces that look like mine. But my look of leadership may not be yours either. That’s the beauty here – everyone has their own take, and we can all show up together to make an incredible impact on this world.

One of the biggest challenges of learning to grow into authentic, honest leadership is deciding that a leader can (and should) look exactly like you.

Today, I’ve got some helpful thoughts and strategies to help break through that noise and figure out how you want to grow as a leader.


What will you water?

Water the anxiety, and the anxiety grows. Water the wisdom, and the wisdom will flourish. Choosing what to water can be the most challenging part of what you want to grow.

The great think though, is that you already have the answers.

The best place to start when deciding what to leadership traits you want to water is by identifying what you admire in leaders you already know. Whether its leaders in your family, your community, your country, or around the world, I bet that you can name at least five people you admire and what you admire about them.

That’s the beginning of your roadmap to leadership growth: identifying the traits YOU want to display as a leader. Not what other people think a leader is, but what you think a leader is.

The route you take is just that – yours and yours alone.

Figuring out the why behind your leadership growth priorities makes setting the boundaries, defining the next steps, and getting there all the easier.


Cultivating your own path to leadership is all about building up the things that you care about, even if you think that what you care about isn’t what leaders around you are displaying.

Regardless of where you are in your career journey, figuring out the why behind your leadership growth priorities makes setting the boundaries, defining the next steps, and getting there all the easier.

Need help identifying growth areas? Take a bit more time with the concept with this helpful worksheet that’ll coach you toward priority growth areas. (worksheet)

Ask the data. Different leadership styles are needed in different places. (research paper)

Still feeling invisible at work? Take this reminder of the power of inclusive leadership . (video)

No meetings. In defense of leaders who want to do the work . (podcast)

Feeling unheard? Find your voice . (article)

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