Is leadership a talent or a skill? Do great leaders have a natural aptitude for motivating a group to achieve results? Or is leadership a skill that can be learned through training, experience and practice? Regardless of where you fall on this debate, successful leadership is fueled by a burning desire or deep commitment. You don’t just want to get ahead, you want to be a leader every day and in every way. Maybe this is the next horizon in your career progression or maybe it is fueled by a higher purpose of giving back. The important core ingredient is commitment.
For those committed to developing their leadership potential, here is a useful roadmap for organizing and navigating all the facets of this development.
- Who are you as a Leader? Leadership is a choice not a position. Choose to personify the values and principles of your ideal leader. Develop your unique list of 5 or 6 guiding principles or core values. Visualize yourself 15 years from now. What does that leader look like? How can you ensure that your behavior consistently reflects these guiding principles? Where does honesty and integrity fit? Kindness and courtesies? Apologizing and forgiving? Loyalty to teammates? A useful tool to jump start your thinking on this topic is the book Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey. Or simply begin a Google search on this topic for additional resources.
- How do you manage yourself? Great leaders work through the emotions that hold them back and know how to hone the emotions that propel them forward. They strive to execute their current job duties and responsibilities flawlessly in order to demonstrate their readiness to take on more. They are seen as adaptable and flexible in the face of change. Optimism and a positive outlook is their dress for the day. Impulse control and stress tolerance seem natural. To learn more about this aspect of leadership development, begin with a personal assessment of your emotional intelligence. Take the EQ-i2.0 assessment or read Primal Leadership by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee.
- What is the vision and mission? Whether you are leading an organization, a team or yourself, be clear about the vision and mission, or simply the goal of the team. A shared purpose creates trusting relationships. To understand the power of a shared purpose in building trust and relationships, view the short TED talk (TED.com) delivered by General Stanley McCrystal: Listen, learn ….then lead.
- Who is on your team? Each member of a team has a unique value proposition. Each has different strengths, skills, perspectives and personalities. A team that appreciates this diversity can work together collaboratively rather than competitively to produce a result that no single member could achieve working alone. A leader seeks first to understand then cultivate and create this synergy. It is equally important for team members to each embrace the power of diversity. A useful tool for understanding and promoting team diversity is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment.
- How to lead in situational challenges? Now that the solid foundation is set, what strategies, tips and tactics are effective with the specific situational challenge facing you or your team? Which leadership style is effective: Visionary, Coaching, Democratic, or Commanding? How to best manage conflict? Difficult conversations? Problem employees? Giving and receiving feedback? Many books and articles on the topic of leadership give insight on these situational challenges. There are numerous resources because each work situation is unique just as people are unique. Here is where leaders deepen their knowledge, hone their skills and advance their teams by continuously seeking current thought, examples and experiences.
Developing your leadership skill begins with your commitment and personal assessment, builds through setting goals and taking actions to increase awareness and knowledge, then changing behavior through practice. Partnering with a coach will accelerate your success by providing structure, staying up-to-date on trends, identifying and tapping into resources and by supporting you in navigating obstacles and limitations both real and self-imposed. Contact me today for a complimentary consultation.