A leader, or anyone really, is not operating at her/his best if they not attending to their personal growth, personal mastery, individuation and self-actualization. If you want to be an effective leader, you must know who you are (what you are aware of and what you do well to create a positive and productive work environment and what your blindspots are). You also need to know what your values are, what your priorities are, how to self-manage your emotions, words and behaviors, and how to collaborate with others. You need to know all this because your goal is to be an effective leader who feels satisfied with his/her leadership abilities. You cannot effectively mentor and develop others unless you have done the work yourself. This applies to anyone in a leadership role or anyone who wants to be more influential in their organization. Leadership starts as an inside job!
I have worked with leaders who are diligently working on all of these issues, attempting to better themselves and the organizations they serve. It is an on-going process and they are committed to being life-long learners. I have also worked with leaders who have not had much leadership training and/or approach leading others in a way that neither serves them nor their organization. They were not aware of their blindspots, did not have a good sense of self, were not able to self-manage well, and/or did not value personal growth and/or leadership development. Unintentionally, they were a liability to their organization. They were frustrated in their roles because they truly wanted to be and feel effective.
The truth is that effective leadership makes organizations more successful on multiple levels, including the bottom line. It also makes leading more satisfying. Leadership awareness can help drive employee and system engagement and alignment. “Gallop, a research-based performance-management consulting company, has found that organizations with highly engaged employees have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth compared with organizations with low engagement in the same industry.” Employee Engagement: What’s Your Engagement Ratio, Gallup Consulting
My belief is all leaders desire to be effective/good leaders. Their intention is good. It is the gap between their positive intention and blindspots that become problematic. Leaders often find themselves in a position where their organization needs to respond to environmental or organizational change. If they are not attending to their leadership skills, they are ill-equipped to manage well the changes needed. Or, they can sense that their internal system is not working as well as it should and they need employees to engage in ways they are not facile with themselves. If the leader does not have good self-awareness and awareness of others, is not evolving and growing to develop their leadership skills, the workplace becomes a “do as I say, not as I do” environment.
Leadership that really works…..one that creates a healthy, thriving environment that supports its employees and structures itself for growth and opportunities, leads by example. It is a “do as I do” environment. It seems so simple, really. Shouldn’t everyone at the top know they are supposed to lead by example? Shouldn’t all leaders be able to do this without much effort?
The answer to both these questions is a resounding NO! Most people have not been raised and/or educated to think and behave in this way. In addition most people, and particularly personalities that have the intelligence, personal strength and ambition to make it to the top of their fields and stay there, have so many other things on their plates that they haven’t given much thought to how they lead……and, in many cases, they have not been given the support and time they need to develop the necessary skills to do so. With developed awareness and leadership training/skills, the gap between leaders’ positive intention and blindspots narrows, as personal power and leadership integrity rise.
It is time to re-evaluate how we develop and support leaders. Do we just want to pick the person who is the smartest in their field but has zero interpersonal skills and/or cannot collaborate with others? Do we want leaders who want to make all the decisions themselves and dictate who does what, blaming the subordinates for failures when things don’t go as they had planned? Or do we want to invest in our leaders……appreciate that leaders have to be trained, nurtured, cultivated, supported, mentored and given every opportunity to be the best they can be for the benefit of the organizations they serve? For personal and organizational success, the latter is the only way.
Here are Five Things You Can Do To Take Stock Of And Hone Your Leadership Skills:
Make a list (an honest one….you don’t need to show it to anyone else) of what you do well with respect to creating a positive and productive work environment and what your blindspots may be in that regard (the latter may require feedback from your HR leader or a trusted colleague)
With respect to each positive trait you listed above, be specific about what the conditions are that optimize your this skill and what are the obstacles/impediments that diminish your skill (i.e., what triggers you in such a way that it detracts from this ability)
With respect to each blindspot, be specific about why this is difficult for you (i.e., does it stem from personal experiences, do you lack confidence, do you feel unskilled/untrained to handle situations, etc.)
Identify other leaders you know who have strengths where you have weaknesses. Be bold: ask them for coffee or lunch, tell them you want to develop your skills in the area they excel in, tell them you admire their strength and ask them if they will mentor you/coach you and hold you accountable while you attempt to implement changes..with respect to that strength only (i.e. X is great at time management…..ask X to mentor you with respect to that skill, nothing else, Y is great with facilitating meetings…..ask Y to mentor you or to give you tips on how to be a better meeting facilitator)
Ask for feedback and be grateful for everything you get back! Only do this if you can receive it with the mind-set that it is ALL for your benefit. There is something to be learned from the feedback that may sting to hear or read and of course, we all need to hear what we are doing well! We each are all a work in progress; leaders are no exception.
Be a ‘do as I do’ leader!!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!