Know who you are and what you want. Brett Kaufman, founder and CEO of Kaufman Development, champions leadership defined by self-knowledge, kindness, and holistic well-being. Brett outlines lessons he has learned from good and bad leaders, the power of rejecting commanding leadership, and how leadership translates across spheres.
Brett knows what kind of work energizes him. As the visionary of Kaufman Development, he spends the bulk of his time performing high-level ideation and creation for his company.
Like many leaders, Brett didn’t consider himself one until he was well into adulthood. He recalls his mother as the earliest example of leadership he recognized. She ingrained in him a sense of gratitude and a willingness to be courageous before difficult choices. It’s important that leaders know how to be thankful even when times are tough.
Brett firmly believes that leaders must recognize that they can choose how they face whatever circumstances confront them. Doing this well, however, requires lots of self-knowledge.
Brett acknowledges that undertaking the journey of getting to know yourself deeply can be scary — it can take years of work, therapy, and meditation. His advice?
- It’s okay to be scared.
- Start with small steps.
- Use fear as a motivating force.
- Make time for quiet reflection.
These steps will help put you in a mindset to make better decisions in both your personal and professional life.
Curiosity Drives Your Vision
Curiosity forges great leaders. Brett says some of the best leaders he has ever known were incredibly curious and always hungry to learn.
Leaders harness the power of their curiosity to fuel their vision. Once you have clarity of vision, don’t hesitate to make the journey toward your goal.
Wellbeing Nourishes Strong Leadership
Brett has learned some valuable leadership lessons over the years that he swears by:
- Delegate, trust, and let go.
- Instead of commanding, ask, “How can I help you?”
- Realize that fear, worry, and doubt aren’t endpoints — let go of them.
- Good leaders are kind, even when tensions are high.
Brett has found that there is a thin barrier between leadership in the professional sphere and elsewhere in life. That’s why he advocates strongly for commitment to holistic well-being which goes beyond just physical health or high performance in the workplace. Well-being takes into account the communal, spiritual, physical, professional, and family aspects of life.
When you lead in a way that values well-being, you gain perspective. The bottom line isn’t everything. Brett stresses that like good leadership, a focus on well-being can only grow from self knowledge.
[33:30] “You’ve got to . . . be pretty clear about who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Strong leadership starts with you and your ability to discern what’s important.
[35:26] “Leadership for me is about really being able to go forward, toward your goal, toward what you want to accomplish, without worrying about everybody else.”
Brett acknowledges that leaders tread a fine line — you need to make your own path, but you also can’t succeed without help from others. He recommends leaders get a mentor, listen to people they trust, and learn to tune-out excess noise.