The Leadership Sponge, and what I soak-up on (lately).

The Plump yellow type

When I think of the leaders I admire the most, people I had the privilege to work for/with and the other giants I admire from afar, I picture über- absorbing, hyper-curated sponges. I see characters who expose themselves to an endless breath of knowledge and experiences and who have the unique ability to soak-up and absorb information, skills and wisdom from their direct environment. An in doing so perfect self-reflection and widen their opinions of the world.

Great leaders demonstrate the ability to soak-up on ‘life’ and selectively retain gems to teach others.

With some of these leaders, I remember taking on great business lessons from as random sources as baseball, military strategy, Latin literature, obscure 90’s movies, poems and even very personal stories. To me, great leaders– regardless of where they operate, all demonstrate this ability to soak-up on ‘life’ and selectively retain gems to release learnings unto others. They don’t just live and hold on things for themselves, they actively live to experience, they experience to learn and learn to give back. And in time, turning a novel, a conversation, a movie or a life-crisis into compelling story-telling and leadership lessons.

The more soaked-up on all that life has to offer the more rounded leader you become. Leadership ultimately is about setting direction with a Growth mindset and bringing out the behaviours in people that will allow them to expand. To do so, a good (sponge) leader need to have soaked up enough information and knowledge from eclectic sources to be able to consume, curate and drip to serve others in ways they might not be able to otherwise.

More often than not, the wisdom we apply to our work choices are found in life experiences.

Latest random sources of leadership inspiration

To me there is no distinction between who you are and the professional that you are. All that you absorb and retain and wring-out becomes knowledge to be interpreted, used and shared as a leader. I wanted to share my latest sources of inspirations that have brought me to reflect on mindfulness, servant leadership, inner purpose, entrepreneurship, creativity and character building.

Podcasts : my new all-time favourite medium for my morning commutes, my rare cooking sessions and 45min showers (I’m this person, yes.)

  • BiG Magic by the author of Eat, Pray, Love. A beautiful, generous podcast on finding creativity and inspiration in your life. (there is a book too)
  • Millennial on how to go through the anxiety and excitement of your 20s and owning up to decisions that will carve your life. Very insightful and beautifully produced by Megan Tan.
  • Oh Boy! by filmmaker Jay Buim. Jay sits down with successful women in the arts, tech and beyond for 1o1 conversations about their life and work. (part of Man Repeller empire).
  • Monocycle by Leandra Medine (Man Repeller yet again): 10min of pure laughter and insights on what it takes to own a media-monster site in NYC and not taking yourself seriously.

Blogs

  • Man Repeller, irreverent and hilarious blog on entrepreneurship, NYC life, feminism, relationships, fashion and life purpose by Leandra Medine.
  • Life With Clarity, a blog that will make your day, make you think and shed a new happy light on your world. By the brilliant Sophie Harpur (Skyscanner homegrown).

Books

TV-shows

  • Chef’s Table : lessons on pure creativity and passion for what you do (and obviously delicious, beautiful food)
  • Silicon Valley (ok — that’s cheating)
  • The West Wing : an all-time classic
  • Friday Night Lights: on leading with righteousness and heart, and on the power of athletic team spirit and self-discipline to achieve your goals
  • VEEP: on bad leadership and organisational politics (also completely hilarious!)

TED Talks

I hope you find inspiration from these sources and absorb some of their brilliant content to draw leadership lessons of your own.

Keep sponging, keep inspiring !

Taking on any good leadership lessons, just drop your latest sources of inspiration in the comments section below !

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