I was well into my managerial career before I realised I needed to be a Leader, not just a manager. I, of course, wanted to get the best out of the teams I was managing, rather selfishly, because their success would further my career. I was all about career, not people, not others. Just me! Pretty shallow, I guess. But so far so good, career-wise, it got me here!

Then came November 2012, when something with bigger elbows than me pushed me back to a place where I had to learn that “acceptance is the route to happiness and contentment.”

That was the beginning of a real yearlong journey for me. My cancer had come back and I had to endure another six months of chemotherapy three years after what I thought was my last round. The treatment had prevented me from participating in the Group’s executive development programme (EDP), in 2010, and I wasn’t about to let it stop me this time round.

So at the single-most challenging time in my professional career, I went to the programme in Carlsbad (TaylorMade’s HQ) and looked forward to seeing China for the second event.

I contemplated my life and my career in my imposed (health) isolation between the first EDP event in Carlsbad and the March version in Shanghai and through the first eight weeks of chemo.

Connecting with other people is key to leadership principles.

Leadership is how we connect with other people

It took that time out of work and mostly alone with family, along with the incredible insight and help the EDP gave me, to realize so much about myself—and about what Leadership really means.

Here’s what I learned from these experiences, insights and vulnerabilities: leadership, for me at least, is simply about how we connect with other people and that includes those we lead at home and those we have no authority over.

It’s not just those structurally “beneath us” that require our leadership. Inspirational leadership means integrity and a genuine belief that how we manage, relate to and connect with other people is what we will create. This way, we do good business, we appreciate, we grow and we revel in our experience.

I found this out in 2013. And I love it. So for leaders out there using your elbows, practise using your heart and you will see the difference it can make in your life!


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