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Building a Foundation for Leadership

Developing leadership skills will enhance your career even if your goals do not include attaining a leadership position

Do you want to advance in your career or in your organization?  Do you aspire to move to the next level, to gain greater responsibility, to be a leader?   Leadership is not just a position.  In order to advance in your career and to be considered for a leadership position, you must exhibit leadership qualities.  What are these qualities?  You know instinctively that you don’t willingly follow the direction of a leader simply because he or she said to.  In the short run, you may follow a leader out of fear or because of the monetary benefits.  But, eventually you will leave an organization where the leadership is authoritarian and lacks the trust and respect of its employees.

Developing leadership skills begins within.  It begins with building the character and the personal effectiveness traits that will generate the trust and respect of others.  There are no quick fixes and no amount of “how-to” books to read that will generate an effective leader without the proper foundation.   In his book, “Principle-Centered Leadership”, Stephen Covey uses the analogy of a farm to illustrate this same point.  He calls it the “law of the farm”.    He says that, in order to enjoy a bountiful harvest, you must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate it, weed it, water it, and gradually nurture growth.   Shortcuts don’t work.  All the steps must be followed in order to produce results.

Let’s begin by examining two key personal effectiveness traits:  honesty and humility.  Leaders who rate high on the quality of honesty demonstrate genuine concern and consideration of others.  They practice The Golden Rule – treating others as they would like to be treated.  They are respectful of supervisors, coworkers and customers.  They do not have hidden agendas.  They refrain from saying the unkind or negative thing.  They do not criticize or talk negatively about someone who is not present.   They possess good self-esteem and don’t need to pull down others in order to build themselves up.

Humility is another key trait of effective leadership.  Leaders who demonstrate humility put what’s best for the organization ahead of their personal agenda.  They understand the limits of their own abilities and recognize the value and skills of others.   In his best selling book, “Good to Great”, Jim Collins describes the key attributes of leaders of great companies as possessing personal humility paired with professional will.   These leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.  Their ambition is first and foremost for the organization.

There are additional personal effectiveness qualities that form the foundation of good leaders.  A leadership coach will help you to identify the weakness in your leadership foundation.  To get started today, call me for a free consultation.  Take the first step toward career advancement.

Covey, Stephen R. (2003) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. N.Y., N.Y., Free Press.

Collins, Jim. (2001). Good to Great. N.Y., N.Y. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

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