Do you want to be a better leader?

I wrote a while back about how you should hire Cinderella. She’s a surprising candidate for your team. No, (if you haven’t read it) not as a virtual assistant, but as a strategic member of your organization. Look at it more closely, and you’ll find the story of Cinderella is not a sad trope about some pathetic character who needed to be rescued by a Prince. It’s a tale of empathy, courage, ambitions, accountability, and authenticity.

While I’m a fan of our young heroine, there’s a character who inspires me more, the Fairy Godmother. Why? Because if you want a cheat sheet for how to be an effective and impactful leader in this modern working world, I ask you to look no further.

1. You show up when your presence can have the most impact. – clearly, things had been tough for Cinderella for a while. The FGM waited until her special skills could make a difference.

2. You hold your people accountable. – there was no “oh but I need more time” – the bell tolled midnight, the magic vanished.

3. You reward smart risk-taking. – would you get into a pumpkin that now looks like a coach?

4. You don’t step in to fix everything, but you leave nudges along the way. – please, you think the shoe on the stairs was an accident?

5. You’re so good at what you do that you can be as eccentric as you want. – if that isn’t a personal goal, I don’t know what is.

6. You understand the power of setting constraints. – if the midnight thing hadn’t been in place, what might have happened?

7. Your clear about your team’s individual goals. – Cinderella wanted to go to the ball, not a basketball game. There would have been a different outfit.

8. You’re creative in your approach to using resources. – watch Helena Bonham Carter’s brilliant portrayal of the Fairy Godmother, and you’ll understand. Lizards for coachmen? But of course,

9. You know how to create the right team to put around a person to help them succeed. – is it possible that the mice and other animal characters were there for a reason? Imagine the chaos had they not been on #teamcinderella when they went through their transformation.

10. You recognize short term and long term goals. – Short term: Get to the ball. Long term: Live happily ever after.

11. You reward the right kind of behavior. – she didn’t show up for the step-sisters, did she?

12. You build confidence in others. – Cinderella didn’t walk in some side door when she arrived at the palace. No, she made a grand entrance down the staircase. It’s unlikely that the early-in-the-story Cinderella would have had the confidence.

13. You understand that all the labels in the world won’t garner respect but also image matters. – Cinderella needed to look like she belonged there, but if it had been just for show, then the transformation wouldn’t have worked.

14. You appreciate how a little dusting of magic can make a big difference.

It’s quite the list. I know I’d want to work with this person, wouldn’t you? Now imagine this person is also good at their particular kind of magic. These are the people who get the promotions—something to think about if you’re ambitious for the Future You.

So if you want the answer to “How to be a better leader.” then look no further or just ask yourself, “What would the Fairy Godmother do?”

I think the Cinderella story’s lesson isn’t about kindness and finding a Prince to rescue you from all the bad things in the world. The lesson I’m learning is to become the Fairy Godmother.

Off to dust some of my magic…


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