How to be a leader – both in the office, and in life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver

I plan to lead.

I plan to nurture.

I plan to pack a punch.

I’ve been driven by my desire to lead, to help others and leave my mark for as long as I can remember. And do you know what? Credit where credit’s due – I am beyond proud of how far I’ve come. Right now my day job sees me lead a highly successful team of bright and eager minds, and my side hustle (aka: the Real Program) has set my soul on fire.

And it’s not by accident. I’ve been carefully crafting my success for years and that’s something worth noting. After all, successful leadership isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is something that can be practised in the smallest of moments – together, those moments will multiply over time and form something great. What’s more, it’s something that is ultimately fed by all other elements of your life – your family, your friends, your commitment to fitness and nutrition. I have made a very conscious decision to nourish all those things so they fit together with strength, grit and guts because, after all, it’s those elements that form the foundation of our lives, right?

So, how strong are your foundations looking? It’s okay if they’re feeling a little rocky – even the toughest of footholds can become wobbly at times. The important thing is your recovery, the approach you take when seeking solid ground once more. And that’s where self-leadership – the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feeling and behaviours to achieve your objective (purpose) – for me, becomes crucial. Because when you begin with yourself, and what means most to you, then everything that follows is truly sustainable.

Easy to say right? But what does that actually look like?

Well, the blend will be different for everyone, but you can’t go wrong with direction like this:

Lead yourself


News flash: you are the creator of your career – not your boss, not your manager or even your business partner. You are. If you need to boost those leadership vibes, take on some extra responsibility, like joining a board or or redesigning team processes that make a real point of difference – pushing boundaries and challenging myself in this way never ceases to fill my bucket.

Discipline yourself

And that doesn’t just mean in the workplace – yes, time management is key in your career, as well as being able to say no to things that you simply don’t have room for. But discipline, for me, is also about giving yourself permission to exercise regularly, seek out fresh produce for you and your family and set aside time to cook wholesome, nourishing meals to keep you feeling your best.

Teach yourself

Continual learning is crucial – it’s something you should do daily, whether it’s a short online course, a uni degree or just setting aside time for regular reading and podcast listening. Whatever form it takes, allowing yourself the chance to grow your knowledge will always stand you in good stead for whatever comes next.

Challenge yourself

This isn’t about reinventing the wheel every time you set foot inside your office, but rather putting in that extra 10% every single day, in everything you do. It’s not rocket science and it’s not something that has to be a solo affair – when you see someone pushing themselves to be their very best at work, in the gym, even at home, support them, acknowledge their effort and then add your own 10% on top of that. You’ll end up fuelling each other’s success, believe me.

Value yourself

At work, that means always acting as though you’re already in your next role and not being afraid to seek out promotion when you feel the time has come. At home, that means carving out time for your pre-bed self-care routine. At the gym, that means allowing yourself time to stretch properly after the last weights session. Never forget that all of this, everything you’ve created comes back to you… making your mind, your body and your soul the most important things at the heart of all of this. So care for them, nourish them and value them.

Do that, and everything else will fall into place. And remember, on the days when the foundations feel a little rocky, this community of fierce, purpose-driven women has got your back.

Odette Barry