Leading people is awesome, but who judges whether you are a good and effective leader?
What are the elements that allow us to develop leadership self-awareness? These are some of the key questions I often think about when developing ideas to write about or when focused on developing and coaching others. Within my roles I also spend quite a bit of time focusing on customer experience or put another way, helping to create cultures that are able to provide a level of customer service that exceeds expectations. Oddly perhaps, the two are linked in morevways than simply the obvious.
The only way to truly know whether you or your business have exceeded expectations is to ask your customers. Similarly, the best people who are in a position to judge whether we are good and effective leaders are those we lead. It is interesting how many people and leaders find it difficult to ask…and yet it is the only real, qualified method of receiving a genuine sense of how you are viewed and what you can do to improve. It is a brave yet potentially rewarding activity, if you are willing to truly hear the responses and actively do something about the comments and insights.
Understanding how you are going is one aspect, but when is the right time to start leading? When it comes to taking the first step, often it is about taking the opportunities when they present. Additionally, when provided the opportunity to lead are you ready to step up? The challenges of leadership are easily matched and often exceeded by the rewards. Finding and maximising the opportunities presented are not always easy stages of the leadership exposure and development process. However they are important.
In any pursuit, a football team, a business or the community generally, there are different times when different people get the opportunity to lead…The challenge isn’t so much the leadership, it is recognising when the opportunity arises and doing something about it. (1)
There is no right or wrong time to start. After all, when is the ‘right’ time to get married, if at all? Similarly there is no ‘right’ time to have children. It is an individual choice influenced by many factors, most only known and understood by the person or people involved. Knowing yourself and being prepared to ask is a great beginning to the leadership journey.
I continue to write about the inputs to and outputs from leadership and always enjoy the conversations with friends and team mates related to the subject. Recently a collegaue of mine, Keith, responded to a post I had written previously. He made a few relevamnt points that are worth sharing.
1] Leadership is easily derailed by internal and external forces. It requires a big investment in time and emotional effort, and when either of these are challenged then it’s easy to see why it is so often allowed to slip and Leaders become managers. So when resources are scarce or your environment is working against you or your personal resources are not as bright and sparkly as usual, then it takes a special strength to keep your head above water. Leaders also benefit from having the time to think.
2] Self awareness is key. If you don’t stop and take an audit of what you’re good at and where you need to improve – at regular intervals – it’s hard to help others develop.
3] Understand others and issues rather than judge them.
4] Even the best Leaders need examples that they can model themselves on – the things to do and the things not to do. When there is an absence of role models – or the people that are available do not display the character or behaviours you think are right, then that’s a challenge. You need to look somewhere else – but where’s a good place to look?
When things get tough I have trained myself to ask myself these two questions:
Easy over hard. Will I take the easy way or will I take the hard way? Taking the hard way usually brings the biggest result. Sometimes it’s OK to walk away from an issue, but normally walking into it and doing the hard work will have a better outcome.
What you’ve got is what you want. If you don’t like what you’ve got – then the power is with you to change it. It’s no one else’s responsibility. If you’re not prepared to change it then accept it; learn to live with it; and don’t complain about it.
These are our thoughts. What do you think?
(1) AFRBoss.com.au, August 13th
- Leadership from the Inside Out (business2community.com)
- Why Servant Leadership Carries the Day (christiandfahey.wordpress.com)
- Which Leadership Approach is Better? (nocrisis.net)