Moving From Grey to Clear: What Leadership Means to Me

Mar 23, 2016 | Uncategorized

By Mag Retelewski, founder and president of Clarteza

I have always admired great leaders. I’ve tried to figure out how they have become so great not because they were very successful with their careers, but because they created value. They created value for the team they led, for their communities and for clients they served. 

I studied leadership at school, but mostly, I learned it on the job. I have seen bad leadership and how damaging it is, and I have observed remarkable leadership and how it lifts organizations.

What I have learned, though, is that your leadership style has to match the style and culture you want to create within your organization.

Here’s what leadership means to me:

  • Hire the right talent – I believe you need to hire people who bring something different to the organization. Hire individuals with a diversity of backgrounds so you can evaluate issues from different lenses. Marcel Proust said, “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” This is what I believe.
  • Find shared values – Having different backgrounds and experience on the team is important, but what connects people is a shared value system. For us, it was having a healthy life and work balance. This is what brought us together and still connects us today.
  • Inspire – Showing the team where they can go is essential. I painted the picture for my team and showed them where they could go to fuel their energy and instigate synergy.
  • Empower – This is a big one for me. Trust your team. Empower them and let them make choices. My Clarteza team generously rewarded me with their loyalty.
  • Recognize accomplishments – Acknowledge your team, individually and collectively. It’s important for everyone to know they are valued so they can continue to grow the organization. Success is about daily wins.
  • Stand up for your team – I have personally been in situations where I was “thrown under the bus” by my boss in front of a client. This was many years ago, but it was painful. I felt betrayed and not part of the same team. I ended up leaving that job, but the lesson was valuable in that I know how important it is to support your team.
  • Look at the big picture – It’s important that you see the forest through the trees. It’s easy for leaders to forget that in day-to-day activities. I think it’s important to know where you’re going so your team knows the company’s future goals and buys into them.

Leadership style can vary and will be different depending on the culture of your organization. Know this: The way you lead your organization will be visible from the inside out. It will be shown by employee retention, sales and customer satisfaction, and it will impact your employees’ personal lives.

Mag Retelewski is founder and president of Clarteza in Chicago, Illinois, and a member of NAWBO-Chicago. For more information, visit the Clarteza website at

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