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How to Lead a Team: When They Shouldn’t be a Priority

September 6, 2022

Is leadership burning you out? Then stick around for some high-impact tips on how to lead a team without sacrificing your own wellbeing. Let's get into it!

Amy Lattimore
WITH, Co-founder

While wanting to do the best for your team is what makes one a good leader, It can be easy to close off yourself in favor of focusing on the health of your team, especially when times are tough. With inflation on the rise, the looming recession, and employees quitting to find more meaningful careers, putting all of your energy into managing your team instead of managing yourself can sometimes take priority. But that’s not how to lead a team to long term success. Balance is the key.

In our episode 3 of Priorities, our Health and Wellness Podcast,  Bryan and I talked about employee wellness, and the room for growth and change in professional wellness. 

Today, we’re going in another direction to cover a priority that is relevant to our current economic market: Leadership. How can we nurture leadership traits, especially when there’s so much going on in our collective environment? How can we elevate ourselves to higher vibrational levels to be at our best for both ourselves and others? Dr. Margaret Alabi shared the answers in our newest podcast episode.

Dr. Margaret Alabi is a growth mindset expert and seasoned leadership strategist. We loved talking with her about prioritizing oneself as a leader to benefit our teams. 

Veteran leaders and ambitious young professionals alike, this one’s for you! If you’re interested in showing up more authentically every day, listen to the conversation here, or keep reading below for a recap.

Meet Dr. Margaret Alabi  

Dr. Alabi is a powerhouse and an all-around multi-talented leader. She is CEO and Founder of The Pivot Consulting Group, an advising and professional development firm that supports individuals as well as organizational clients in making the proverbial pivot to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Headshot of Dr. Margaret Alabi smiling wearing a fringed shirt, earrings, and a ponytail.

An Atlanta native born and raised, Dr. Alabi describes herself as a “pharmacist who has never dispensed a pill a day in her life” and never intends to. 

With a history in the corporate world since her graduation from the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Alabi has touched nearly every single part of the industry outside of clinical research. She started off in corporate affairs, in one of the highest levels at Gallup as one of the most junior people in her department. She was also given the chance to work with the North American president and engage with the CEO of that multinational organization. 

Dr. Alabi admits that as a young professional, she was scared out of her wits. She was affected by the fears of her peers, worrying about what to say and what not to say in a corporate environment. This created a very interesting persona for her in the workplace. But, she tells us, that persona was “immediately smashed by God.” 

According to Dr. Alabi, she was sitting in her cubicle when she “heard God say, who are you trying to impress? You trying to impress these people, are you trying to impress me?” Which then prompted her to ask herself that tough question -- "who am I trying to impress?" 

When she realized what the answer was, her professional career changed:

“I realized that I needed to invest in myself to get trained in order to equip people in the corporate space.”

She's now working to help others invest in themselves as leaders and return to their own greatness. 

And needless to say, so do we at WITH!

Lead your team effectively, starting with priorities

Dr. Alabi describes a good leader as someone who is “in tune with what’s going on in their environment.” A good leader understands their landscape, and realizes what is expected of them. Great leaders often prioritize those who report to them, and step outside of themselves. They are visible and accessible. And by becoming better leaders, they can empower their teams. 

To lead well, you have to be in tune with yourself, your business, and your people.. What does that mean, exactly? 

  • Keep track of your goals! Are they professional? Are they personal? 
  • Pay attention to people around you that go deeper than just their work.
  • Understand the people around you.

These steps are a great start to becoming more aware of yourself, and by becoming more aware of yourself, you can continue to foster your leadership skills. 

Three priorities to lead a team 

We asked Dr. Alabi what the top three priorities leaders should be focused on, and she did not disappoint.

Priority one: get in tune with yourself 

This is about you first. You can’t give from an empty vessel. If you’re not pouring into yourself on a regular basis, things can crash and burn. 

Priority two: figure out what your personal values are

Your values drive your decisions, and your decisions impact everyone around you. 

Priority three: know your strengths and weaknesses 

What is your kryptonite? Do what must be done to keep yourself powered. Is that your morning coffee? Your workout routine? While it can be difficult, try to find out what zaps you! Great leaders aren’t afraid to share their “zappers” or what energizes them and can have an effect on their days. 

I, for one, need my breakfast in the morning. 

There can be many types of different zappers, like physical ones or environmental ones, and sharing those can help your team to avoid taking things personally when the going gets rough. 

You may also want to think about working out of your comfort zone to improve your skills as a leader. This can include finding your zappers, and reducing your dependance on them. 

Read the room to lead your team effectively. 

Dr. Alabi brought another important aspect of leadership to the table: intuition. Getting to a place where you can truly understand the environment around you, and tapping into your natural intuition allows you to know when you should talk, and when you shouldn’t talk.

“And I think that’s really, really big for people of color,” Dr. Alabi shared. “We use our intuition outside of the workplace.” So why wouldn’t we do the same in the workplace? For Dr. Alabi, being intuitive is “an around the clock thing.” Intuition never takes a vacation; and while many may try to silence our natural intuition, especially in the workplace, this can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress.

Leader or no leader, stress is more than just a mood killer. Stress can cause you to make decisions or do things that can throw you off balance. 

At WITH, we’re all about leveraging a whole set of different data points—emotional to environmental—to do some intuitive prioritization.

But how does that look in practice?

It’s a difficult endeavor, that’s for sure. When Dr. Alabi works with her clients, she talks a lot about energy.

Energy is never good or bad, but when we’re working while stressed, it’s really hard for us to “show up” and be present in the moment. 

At these energy levels, our intuition isn’t free flowing like it should be. How does one practice keeping intuition active even when stress levels are sky high?

Let your intuition lead to success for your team

Dr. Alabi narrows down the process of intuition to these questions, starting with being aware of how you’re showing up.

  • Are you operating in victim mode?
  • Are you operating in angry mode?
  • Have you realized that it’s all about creating a win-win situation for yourself and others involved?
  • Have you understood that there is always room for everyone to win?

Victim mode can happen when you’re trying to like someone, operating from a place of fear, or focusing on what someone else is “doing to you” rather than what you are doing. Pulling yourself out of victim mode allows room for everyone to win. You can open up to intuition again, and understand that there “actually is room for everybody on this earth to be them and do them in the best way possible.”

And to Dr. Alabi, “that’s one of the simplest ways to really tap into that intuition, just that slight mind pivot to say, okay, everybody here can win.”

Nurture your leadership skills by practicing an abundance mindset 

As a leader, when we tap into intuition and allow room for everyone to win, we can slip into an abundance mindset. 

And while leadership may be sometimes associated with a title, the abundance mindset allows us to figure out what our inherent leadership qualities are, and how to nurture them. 

In this context, Dr. Alabi speaks about titles and how they can damage oneself. When a pecking order is created based on titles, it can sometimes be a disservice to ourselves. 

And while “it’s a system nobody seems to be in a hurry to change or fix” people who don’t have titles can make those in a leadership role aware of who you are, and what powers you carry that can influence others.

In Dr. Alabi’s words, it can be “an area of leadership that a lot of people sleep on.”

Again, it’s helpful to think about what we value. When we think about the corporate space, being a leader comes with a lot of responsibility. 

It’s beneficial to be very clear about the work that you’re doing, and your own personal and professional goals. 

You should also consider tapping “into that boldness and courage to say: I’m very clear on what my strengths are here. This is where I feel like I can serve the team. You get the best of me when I’m doing work like this.”

This can give us the opportunity to find where we best fit, so we can do the things we may like doing at our job versus being given things we dislike. 

Lead a successful team in the workplace by becoming an asset  

You can become an asset by embodying leadership traits like:

  • Knowing oneself and your value
  • Allowing yourself to be intuitive 
  • And practicing abundance 

But in the bigger picture, it all goes back to what we want, and to ask yourself like Dr. Alabi did: “what do you want out of this role? Is it just the paycheck? Cool. Then you’re not gonna do anything extra.”

You may also consider “Is it the paycheck and a little bit of recognition? Cool. Then you’re going to do a little bit extra in defining what that project looks like for you. But you’ve got to know what it is that you want. And I will say, yesterday, it’s never been a priority for us in this country.”

Many of us talk about it. But when the average American is asked “What do you want?” It can be a question that’s challenging to answer. If you find yourself in a space where you’re only thinking “Oh, work, it could be better, but I” you can break out of unwanted and unnecessary cycles by being clear about what you want out of the situation.

Get clear on that, Dr. Alabi says, and “You’ll be good to go! Your life will uptick and level up tremendously.” 

Good energy leads to good leadership

But why are energy levels so important to successful leadership? I really wanted to know, and Dr. Alabi was happy to answer. 

The energy we personally put out reflects back at us. We get what we give, and it also cycles back to two energy levels we mentioned before: the victim, and angry. What vibrations are above that?

Above the victim and the angry are showing care and concern for those around you. If someone in your workplace arrives upset, clearly running on anger or victim, offering care and concern instead of anger and victim opens you up to thoughts like:

  • Something must have happened to them before they walked into the office
  • They’re obviously going through something
  • And in return I will not take this completely personally.

Operating on care and concern instead of anger or victim can allow you to remove yourself from the situation. But to get to this space, you have to get intimate with yourself, and honest. 

It can be difficult, and as Dr. Alabi said, “Let’s be real.”

Some of us lie to ourselves about what we want, and about what we think we like because of the society we’re in. It’s not our fault; it’s just the way we were “programmed.” Dr. Alabi works on deep programming with her clients in coaching sessions by understanding where they’re coming from. 

But how can we break the habit of taking things personally? 

Defeat your personal mythology, and become a better leader for your team

The first step is understanding that what others say is about them, and that what you hear is about you. 

To reinforce this, Dr. Alabi often asks her clients “okay well, when that happened, What did you hear about yourself?” 

Often, she’s met with silence, and helps them realize that it wasn’t really about them. Now clients can go to the next level, right above the caring and concern space.

That is the space in which you can see that everybody wins.

When you get two levels above that, you’re in what Dr Alabi calls “full creator mode.”

You are in flow, and nothing can stop you. You can understand that this person is having a bad day, and it’s not your problem, because it’s not about you. In full creator mode, you can focus and do what needs to be done, to allow cooperation and to enter into a more productive space.

As human beings, we tend to resonate. The general public tends to resonate in an anger or victim mold, and Dr. Alabi believes that this is how society thrives, how the economy can operate. The base vibration there can be “I wanna sell people on fear.”

But as leaders, we want to slip into that space where “everyone wins” and where we can improve ourselves. By working on ourselves, we can, in turn, better support our teams. 

Parting words of wisdom for better leaders 

“Can you sort of leave us with words of encouragement, of uplift of wisdom within the context that we are? What would you say to us, to us as a community, as an audience? What do you think is required of us in this moment? What should we be practicing, you know, daily. Or regularly.”

At the tail end of our episode, Dr. Alabi left us with plenty to think about. Her parting words of wisdom were no different. 

“One of the things we’ve gotta do as our world and spaces are evolving is remind ourselves about who we are.”

Which include a few affirmations that may come in handy.

Affirmations and building a safe zone

To start building a newer, safer space for yourself, you can try affirmations like:

  • I am whole
  • I am perfect
  • I am powerful
  • I am loving
  • I am harmonious

Dr. Alabi reminds us that these affirmations are “very clear truths about who you are, every morning that you wake up because yesterday is gone and it no longer exists. So every day that you wake up, you get the opportunity to step into and live out those words that are highly vibrational.”

Setting your intention for the day can, as Dr. Alabi puts it “let the world or the day know what you’re here to do, or how you’re wanting to show up”. It helps create a safe zone for you, by bringing in positive energy and the intent to improve and do your best.

And by improving yourself as a person, you can improve on yourself as a leader, passing that on to better manage your team.

Stay tuned for more!

At WITH, we’re big supporters of self-improvement—not only for yourself, but for those you work with too.

If you’d like to hear more about what Dr. Margaret Alabi had to say about nurturing your leadership skills, you can check out the latest episode of our podcast on Spotify, Captivate, Apple Podcasts

Plus, you can check out more articles from us in our health and wellness magazine:

P.S. Love the podcast? Want to get in touch with us? You can contact us here

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