Arianna Huffington — Leadership & Life Lessons
Arianna Huffington is one of the most powerful and prominent women in the media today. What can we learn from Arianna Huffington? Are there some leadership traits and life lessons we can apply from her to become an efficient and respected leader?
Arianna Huffington is often described as authentic, intelligent, and humble female leader.
Huffington’s name is inextricably linked to the Huffington Post, the journalistic venture she created. But she is also an author, a media figure, a wellness entrepreneur and a politician.
According to Arianna, if you look at leadership, it’s a little bit of a split-screen world.
This is a factSmart people make suboptimal decisions about significant issues because of outdated thinking and high levels of stress. We need to find ways to renew ourselves if we are going to be creative leaders.
In 2009, Arianna Huffington earned the 12th spot in Forbes’ first-ever list of the Most Influential Women in Media.
She’s also listed as the 52nd Most Powerful Woman in the World in 2014. She stepped down from her role in Huffington Post in 2016 and focused on Thrive Global, her new corporate and consumer well-being startup.
So how does a young Greek girl studying in England, become such a prominent leader of the society? These are some of the traits that make Arianna Huffington a powerful woman in leadership.
With her achievements, she truly deserves to be on the list of today’s top female entrepreneurs and is worthy of being emulated by other business owners and leaders like you. Here are seven inspiring lessons that you can learn from her leadership and life and apply to your business as well.
According to Arianna, right now success is defined in terms of two metrics: money and power. But it is like a two-legged stool, at some point you’ll fall off of it.
Leaders need to consider unusual metrics such as well-being, inner wisdom, our capacity to wonder and celebrate life, and give back.
But the way companies are currently run, there is no space for these metrics. To tap into our own creativity, we need to slow down. Without creativity there is no innovation.
Leaders must help their employees gain a balance in life, which in turn manifests itself positively within the office.
This is a factArianna Huffington speaks to the importance of a collective move by an organization to foster a relaxed atmosphere for success. A culture of burnout is never going to be a culture of creativity, and this starts at the top.
Sleep and relaxation can be leadership tools, and a rested mind will always be more effective than one rife with stress and tumult.
Once a leader recharges the battery, and gets the most out of their life outside of work, they will be able to find that place that Archimedes found so long ago.
Arianna Huffington is considered a powerful leader because of her different approach to seeing success.
Some of her successful workplace ideas include providing her employees with nap-rooms, where they can rest when tired. According to Forbes, she believes that success needs to be redefined.
Speak Your Mind
When Arianna wrote her first book The Female Woman in 1974, she criticized the entire organic growth of women’s liberation movements and how they would eventually destroy society.
It is important to stand by what you deeply believe in.
This is a factWithout mincing words, she predicted their detrimental impact on feminist movements. As a result, she was widely criticized for speaking from a privileged position, but it didn’t jeopardize her opinions and she stood her ground.
For Arianna Huffington, her truest motivation comes from doing what she loves and she feels blessed and grateful for this.
She launched The Huffington Post in 2005 when she realized that her passion for conversation and connection converges with what is happening in the world. She saw the importance of moving the conversations and spirit of the times online.
When Arianna moved to London at the age of 16, her entire life was a clean slate. She was an outsider and had almost no academic background in creative writing.
However, she wasn’t cowed down by the new world she was thrust into, rather using the exposure at her disposal to improve. We need to find ways to renew ourselves if we are going to be creative leaders.
Your voice punctuates your leadership style and directly affects your team’s faith in you.
This is a factYour voice is a powerful leadership tool that influences people’s perception, drives communication and helps you articulate your vision. It’s a reflection of your core values and communication skills that impact how you present yourself as a leader.
📚 Additional reading
Learn to say No. Saying yes to anybody means saying no to everybody. Don’t overwhelm yourself with responsibilities that you cannot meet.
Bake Your Space Cake
Arianna Huffington believes that the best ideas come when you are relaxed, not when you are stressed. Forcing yourself to work when you’re burnt out won’t produce good results.
Experience digital-free hours to see things differently or to experience deeper connections with people.
This is a factYou’ll notice and realize things you didn’t before because you were too busy starring at that screen. The world is full of wonders, you just have to look up.
Devote time to yourself. A time of sanctuary where you can rediscover and recharge at your own pace.
Take a warm bath, practice deep breathing, banish LCD screens temporarily, take the longer walk, and just be in the comfortable in your own skin. Many of life’s wonders are discovered when we are alone.
As a leader, you also need to set up the right expectations internally with your employees.
At Huffington Post, no one is expected to answer email after hours or over the weekend. 99% of the time it’s not urgent and to create a culture where you are constantly plugged in and expected to be always-on is to create a culture of a burnout.
Leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were known to go away for extended periods of time to reconnect with themselves, their vision, and their ideas.
This is a factLeaders need to find that place of wisdom, strength, and real connection with themselves and others and they need to lead from that place. Only from that place they can truly create miracles and change the world.
📚 Additional reading
Creating the culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity. This mentality needs to be introduced as a leadership and performance-enhancing tool.
Heal The Haters
Despite overcoming a lifetime of criticism and doubt from people all around the globe, Arianna doesn’t actually believe in the concept of thick skin. She believes that pain and disappointment is a normal, unavoidable part of life.
Remove poison from your life. If there is somebody toxic in your life, kindly remove them from your life. Don’t ever hold grudges.
When toddlers feel angry or sad, they feel it fully — and cry, scream and throw tantrums as a result. But within minutes they’re back to their normal, happy selves again. The pain sinks in, but can go straight out if we let it.
Criticism is a natural part of leadership. If no one is criticizing your leadership — you are not leading correctly.
This is a factLeadership is not a popularity contest. Leadership is about always doing what is in the best interest of the organization you are serving. Leaders get paid to make the difficult decisions.
Take stock of your criticism. Be it in her writing styles or politics, Arianna Huffington has always been massively criticized.
When talking about how to handle it, she does not believe that one needs to have a thick skin. Instead, she believes that one should have the capacity to learn from criticism, no matter where it is coming from.
Leadership requires mental toughness.
If you are not being criticized, you are not leading and guiding the organization to grow, innovate and explore endless possibilities. You need to be strong and objective to whatever criticism people throw your way.
📚 Additional reading
To be a great leader, we don’t have the option of saying, doing, and being nothing. We must accept criticism as the price of leadership, and lead well and grow.
Trust Your Gut
Arianna Huffington was living in England and was involved with Bernard Levin; left her secure life and job and moved to New York at the age of 30 and later ended up founding The Huffington Post in 2005 and under her guidance, it has become one of the most read Popular Political Sites today.
Great leaders have guts to stand up for what they believe in.
Nowadays the anticipation is that the public company has to beat its expectation and this leads to some of the worst business decisions. As leaders, we have to have the guts to stand up and do it our way.
Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs are leaders that continued to innovate and reinvent the industries as they stood by their values and their visions.
They understood that pioneering comes with initial misunderstanding and disapproval. The twists and turns of Huffington’s working life show that building a career is not only about moving forward; It is also about developing your capacity for change.
As an entrepreneur, Arianna Huffington is committed to transforming the world. She believes that it’s important to focus on abundance, not on shortages.
This is a factPay attention to what is not working, but don’t forget to put the spotlight on what’s working. In Huffington Post, there’s a section called Impact, which focuses on stories of hope and what people are doing to change the world.
Practicing mindfulness will help you have access to intuition and evolve your thoughts. And that intuition can help you assemble a team and inspire them to find solutions.
The stories of the Huffington Post offer rich case studies of inertia versus innovation and incumbents versus newcomers. They should inspire us to think about the plethora of opportunities that are possible if one dares to rethink standard recipes and question our own industry’s model.
📚 Additional reading
Analysis and reason have their own limitations. Intuition, on the other hand, is about lightning speed, lateral connections, and complexity.
You'll Fail If You Don't Try
According to Arianna, another ingredient in Huffington Post’s success is its ability to constantly disrupt its business model. Two years after launching as a news and politics site for example, the publisher had grown to include sections on business, entertainment, media and lifestyle.
Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success. If you are not willing to fail and to learn and adapt along the way, you are not willing to be great!
This is a factAs the world around us changes, and existing industries and companies are disrupted, careers will be disrupted as well. Straight-line careers to the top may become a rare phenomenon and certainly not the only way to success.
Unlike other authors who stick to one genre, Arianna experimented. In her writing career, she wrote biographical, nonfiction, and political books.
The sheer variety of titles and subjects symbolizes how she refused to be restrained in acquiring knowledge. This beguiling curiosity led her to conquer different fronts of entrepreneurship as well.
Failure is part of the journey you’re on, and no matter how much you would like to avoid it, you cannot. Instead, you must learn how to better handle it and overcome it.
This is a factAs a leader, your job is to lead. Those around you need you to step up to the plate when adversity strikes. There’s no shame in your mistake, but there is shame in trying to hide it.
To successful leaders, failure isn’t failure; it’s a lesson to grow and get better.
Successful leaders are honest and humble, focus on the ONE solution that will help, and they communicate this with their team. They own it and do not hide from it, but they also DO NOT dwell on it.
📚 Additional reading
Failure is a part of leadership. The process of failure can never be avoided. In fact, it is necessary for a leader’s success.
Enjoy The Journey
Leadership is a journey — a journey traveled by an individual who has been handed over the responsibility of guiding people towards achieving a certain business objective.
Leaders need to continually refine their leadership skills and adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the workplace in order to remain viable.
This is a factLeadership development is an ongoing process. It begins with learning new skills and gaining experience by applying those skills. Leaders must possess the ability to translate their knowledge into action and continue on this journey throughout their career and life.
The story begins with self-belief. Do you think you can generate a constructive effect on other people? If you don’t, you may as well not commence the journey itself!
The journey of leadership is primarily a self-discovery. Before your venturing into leading other people, you will seek answers within yourself to acquire clarity about your path in life. You will be compelled to define your values, ideas, concepts, and expectations for yourself.
Leaders can do for other people what they have accomplished for themselves. Successful leaders are excellent coaches, storytellers, and teachers.
When people see you in your real human element, they discover it is simpler to relate to you, connect with you and are a lot more inclined to be led by you. From their point of view, they can respect the power and determination that may be reflected in your actions.
Here’s a little secret: when you give with pure intent, you always get it back tenfold. Leaders eat last and put people first!
This is a factNowadays, it’s easy to get caught up in the “what’s in it for me” mentality. We’re all struggling for a spot at the top in the rat race that we often forget that giving is what life is all about.
📚 Additional reading
As one of the most powerful women leaders and entrepreneurs of our times, Arianna’s life and the lessons she imparts arise from the very real hardships that she has faced on her journey. These are indicators of what it takes to succeed, and how one must prepare to fight the tough battles that life throws in the process.
Change is coming. Be prepared for it and embrace it as a leader.
Expect the best from your team and create an environment and culture which encourages optimal performance and wellbeing. Start with you and lead by example.
Overworking is not cute. A burn-out culture leads to nowhere.
This is a factPeople are not going to remember how many followers you had or how many sales you made, they’re going to remember the type of person you were, so make your legacy worth remembering.
In the digital age, we need to know how to reconnect with ourselves. If we are looking to improve and change this world — we need to be functioning at our best to lead the change we wish to see and thrive.
First at all, we need to become wiser about what/who we let rule our lives and take charge of our own success. But before we do, we need to make sure we have our own very clear definition of what success truly is. What’s your definition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!