Effective leadership is also self-aware leadership. If you’ve held leadership positions during your career, you know there are times when your approach resonates with those following you and times when they don’t. Or do you? The ability to self-assess will help you see when your leadership resonates with others and when it doesn’t. Here are a few things to consider in your quest to become a more effective leader:
As a leader, you are the cog of your company wheel… if that cog is even slightly askew, everything’s off. The best way to make sure things are in line is to assess where you are today, including both your positive and negative characteristics, and to have an approach for self-growth for the future. It will take time and discipline to develop a constant process of self-inflection and you will need to set guidelines for improvement for yourself. Putting in the effort to improve your effectiveness as a leader will enhance your life and your companies’ life in remarkable ways.
A great way to ascertain your starting point is to use an analysis tool/personality assessment. There are a number of them available, including the Myers-Briggs and the DiSC, but we recently had everyone in our company take a “CVI” (Core Values Index) assessment. This determined what their personality type was, including their core strengths and weaknesses. This also shone a light on why each person does what they do including why they make specific decisions and why they act a certain way in diverse situations.
Once you have an idea of where you are as a leader and why you make certain decisions, it is much easier to create a plan of attack to focus on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. This plan should include certain strategic tactics to increase your probability of success:
- Start with a vision of how you want to show up every hour of every day – Everyone has heard of how visualizing positive outcomes helps in achieving your goals. Start by having a vision of how you want to “show up” for each meeting or situation. How do you want to be perceived? Do you want to show up confident, have a positive attitude, empathetic or perhaps strategic? How prepared do you need to be, what are you wearing? Having a focused vision before you get there can enhance many aspects of how you perform in any situation.
- Create a task list – Sometimes it gets daunting to deal with all the to do items on your plate as well as trying to make changes to your leadership. One idea is to create a task list of the changes you want to make in a prioritized fashion and start by tackling the difficult tasks first. We call that “eating the frogs” in my firm. If you pace yourself by only trying to accomplish 2-3 large tasks per day and are willing to work on the toughest task first, you will be able to work personal development goals onto your list and make progress on your ‘to do’ list and feel fulfilled when you leave the office at the end of the day.
- Develop a way to hold yourself accountable to your plan – In my mind, the only way to foster permanent change in our behaviors is through habitual actions. One way to do this is to set up reminders and follow through on them. For example, if you want to connect and enhance relationships with your people, setup a weekly reminder to stop what you’re doing and visit some of their desks to talk. Another way is to find someone to be a coach for you – this could be a professional or casual relationship that has scheduled times where you have conversations about your goals and whether or not you got it done.
- Be honest with yourself – Be absolutely honest with yourself during this transformation. Have you done everything you can to make a change? Did you give yourself ample time to change? Are you a casualty of Premature Feigned Success (PFS) (not a real disorder) and honestly need to push harder to make a full adoption of this new skill?
- Continuously Reassess -The only way to increase your leadership effectiveness is through continuous self-assessment. Don’t lose sight of where you started, where you are headed, and how far you’ve come. Read back over your personality assessment to increase your awareness of why you operate the way you do. This will help you hone in on your performance, what you have accomplishment and what other steps are needed to achieve your goals.
- Reward Yourself – When you reach certain milestones, reward yourself. Take a walk, leave a little early that day. Do something for yourself that sets up a psychological trigger for the motivation to continue your transformation.
It is tough to challenge yourself by looking within to assess your strengths and come face to face with your weaknesses. But going through this process will have countless positive results for both you and your company. There is no end to developing yourself as a great leader.
About: McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by putting complex financial data into truly meaningful context. But deeper than dollars and data, our focus is on developing an understanding of you, your culture and your business goals. This approach enables our clients to achieve their greatest potential.