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It’s time to take stock of your leadership skills

September 22, 2014
Borderless Leadership

Successful because of their ability to motivate others, great leaders express their inner character as they act in their role.

They spend time galvanizing team members but do they lead by example? As more hours are spent attempting to spur success, leaders can neglect understanding how the group perceives them. Taking stock in one’s own strengths and weaknesses can help successful leaders to become confident examples for their employees and team members.

Former U.S president Dwight D. Eisenhower believed leadership actually could be learned, stating: “The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is the leadership of men.” Mr. Eisenhower stayed in character, never leaving his somewhat stern and commanding stance. He knew who he was and stayed that way.

The more meticulous one becomes at professional introspection, the more able the leader can be in adopting a consistent leadership personality. Consider these 10 tips to personally audit your character and become the catalyst for your organization’s success.

1. Structure time for your own assessment.

Whether you take five minutes once a day or an hour a month, block off time in your calendar to ‘check-in’ and assess your personal performance.

2. Leave your ego at the door.

Leadership, in many respects, is selfless. “Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish,” Mr. Eisenhower also said. “Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.” Don’t create reasons for those around you to pull in the opposite direction – others should want to follow your lead.

3. Look at performing a 360 degree review with your team.

Invite team members to constructively critique you and each other. These should be structured sessions with defined questions and stated objectives. Don’t let them become a free-for-all.

4. How do you handle feedback?

Use these sessions to evaluate how you respond to others in a formal setting. Are you constructive or defensive? Watch your behaviour and reflect on it – use a scale from 1 to 10 – how did I perform?

5. Affirm interest in yourself.

Are you interested in self-development? Then what are you doing to improve in this area? Don’t just think, actualize. Don’t just say, do.

6. How can you improve?

More important than perfecting leadership ability is constantly improving it. Persistent improvement over time leads to profound results.

7. Are you a traditional or visionary leader?

Read as much as you can about how classical leaders achieved greatness. Another notable U.S. president, Harry Truman, said he learned by reading about the greats, especially Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. How did they differ from their predecessors? Find a way to differ from yours.

8. Are you a leader or do you manage people?

Take stock of those on your team. Show them that you, too, have a stake in their success. Inciting passion in your employees is exemplified by the passion that you display in them. As Sodexho Canada’s CEO Dean Johnson has said, “Early on as a leader, I’d managed to push through problems without always bringing people onboard or by doing it myself. Now I lead through my direct reports and others. You can either influence people and engage them or dictate to them.”

9. How much do you know about your employees?

The more you know the more you are able to mobilize and motivate the right people to make meaningful moves. Peter Aceto, CEO Tangerine Bank, formerly ING Direct, commented: “We have a simple set of values; we hire people who find it exciting to challenge the status quo.” Mr. Aceto says he knows nearly everyone in the company, even those operating the cafeteria.

10. Celebrate the wins.

Find comfort and build confidence in your ability to acknowledge achievement. Don’t become heady or egotistical, but relish in the big wins – if only for a moment. Your employees are not the only ones who thrive with motivation.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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