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Leadership Success from the Inside Out

Leadership Lessons from Mom

Women leading a business meeting.

There’s a lesson from my mom you can take to the office.

My mom is one of the sweetest and feistiest people you’ll meet. In her parenting style she was consistent in her messaging and expectations of us. Values, giving back and hard work were three of her big lessons, and she was always clear that what’s inside is what we needed to keep working on. She wanted us to be kind, thoughtful, helpful and, most importantly, to be ourselves. Her often-heard quote was, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”.

Her words are embedded in me. They are words that founded much of the parental guidance that came from my mom. Her words were reinforced by her role of modelling and leading our family. Now, many years later, I find myself working with a leadership model built upon creating success from the inside out. What’s inside you is important to performing well and realizing success. My work is built on the concept that what is on the inside is the core to leadership. The inside, you, being core to success - knowing who you are and how you show up.

Quote that reads "we each hold the potential to lead. We each own the courage to lead" by Lisa W Haydon

Pivotal Leadership Model

Success and leadership all start with you.

The Pivotal Leadership Model begins on the inside. The journey to leadership is knowing who you are; it’s about knowing how you show up.

There are 5 levels to Pivotal Leadership:

  • Your personality

  • Your mindset

  • Your skills

  • Your execution

  • Your leadership in action

I believe business success is realized from the inside out.

The Pivotal Leadership model created by Pivotal Growth

The heart of leadership

Let’s start with knowing who you are. Getting to know yourself involves self-awareness, feedback and personality assessments. I have clients who feel they are self-aware and know their personality, yet in our work we often find blind spots or capabilities that can be leveraged for more success. For many of us, there is no arrival point to knowing ourselves; in our fast paced and changing world, we need to keep learning and adapting how we lead and work in it. Who we thought we were is tested every day.

Your personality is your differentiator. No one else is you. Accurate, and I’ll emphasize accurate, self- assessment is where you’ll begin to see and take ownership of the traits that make you unique and special. This is where you define and build your personal brand. I have a bias to the importance of knowing and owning your personal brand.

There are aspects of you that you can’t change, yet you have the opportunity to be versatile in how you let your personality show up. It’s that versatility that supports your personal brand and your leadership profile. Start with you and a mindset about the leader you are and want to be.

What drives you

What do you do that energizes you? Where do you accomplish your best work? These are your purpose. You may prefer to call them your passion. Simon Sinek, Start with Why, and Jim Collins, The Hedgehog Concept, have focused extensively on getting your purpose right. There are many different approaches to defining purpose or passion; these are ones I’ve worked with.

Practice and learning

Your skills are the next part of your leadership capabilities. This is where many of us likely spend a high proportion of our professional development time and development investment. This is where it feels most comfortable. Yet this may result in a disproportionate amount of development time being spent on skills, at the cost of other important areas of leadership development. Invest wisely and for the future in this portion of your leadership capabilities.

Getting things done

While execution might seem an easy piece of a leadership model, this is where success can fall apart. Do what you say you are going to do. Follow through and follow-up. These are two statements that I use often in my client work. This is the hard work - you need to deliver results. Successful leadership execution correlates to goals, discipline, team work, resilience and communication.

Choosing to be the leader

Here is the place in the model where your leadership profile enters the equation. It’s about wrapping yourself in your leadership presence. Some may call this executive presence. It’s where you use all the things in your tool box to lead a team, a cause, a project; take products or services to market; and communicate effectively. Leadership presence means having impact and influence with more than just yourself. This is where the shift happens from being about you, to being about those around you and those that follow you (Would You Follow You).

The term leadership gets wide use. At times I hear it used in scenarios that demand management; however, management and leadership are two different things. Leadership is complex. Successful leadership is about proven principles and nuances. Human behaviours, including our own, make leadership reactive and at times unpredictable. If you know who you are and how you’ll behave in situations, that’s the foundation to leverage for successful leadership.

It’s what’s inside that counts. Success from the inside out.


Headshot of Lisa Haydon

Lisa W. Haydon is a business leader and entrepreneur with over 30 years of operational experience leading teams in banking, capital markets, technology and professional services. Lisa’s instinct for sorting through business complexities, understanding distinctive leader personalities, and realizing results compelled her to leave a corporate career and become an entrepreneur.

Her company, Pivotal Growth, introduced a technology tool for leadership development assessment and planning. The suite of tools offers diagnostic capabilities to synthesize and accelerate people performance.

Lisa’s skills and the Pivotal Growth product help companies enhance their performance and support leaders achieving greater confidence and success.

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