Real Leadership development involves more than 7 easy steps
What’s common sense isn’t common practice~ Steven Covey
It seems to be quite the trend to write articles with ‘3 steps to a better team’, ‘5 steps to influencing others’, ‘7 essential qualities to be a better leader’. The need to distill leadership skills into a quantifiable and easy checklist often leaves me with feeling that this is an oversimplification of leadership development. True, there are definite competencies and characteristics that leaders possess, however developing or improving your leadership skills requires much more than a 7-step checklist. I have often coached leaders with similar challenges and completely different leadership journeys to a solution. Authentic leadership involves knowing yourself (your own strengths, opportunities for growth and passions) and developing in a genuine and sincere manner.
I was once asked by a senior leader to give him a few steps on how he can become a charismatic and influential leader. My advice, much to his surprise, was to focus on self-awareness and listening to others.
Self-awareness is the first area that I focus on with leaders. Depth of leadership skills starts through self-awareness, knowing yourself better can create the steps needed to improve your leadership skills. This can and will take time, and is the best investment you can make into developing yourself, developing others, increasing your influence, improving your communication, clarifying your vision, and many other areas. If you are not aware of how you are coming across, you may never learn about the areas that influence your impact as a leader.
Listening is another area that stems from self-awareness: It involves asking questions, understanding the concerns of others and how you are communicating to that particular audience. You may have a compelling vision, however if you are communicating in a monotone voice, then you have lost your audience.
*These are just two of the areas to focus on, there are, of course, many other areas to developing leadership skills.
So instead of quantity, I suggest a focus on quality: a depth of insight gained by learning more about yourself through feedback and reflection; then creating goals to improve these areas, investing the time to practice, and reflection on your journey.
- Ask people you trust for feedback, in order to identify your blindspots. Set a personal goal, i.e. improve listening skills. Ask them for regular feedback on progress.
- How am I communicating with others? How am I under stress? What are my blind spots? Am I communicating with passion?
- At the end of the day/week, spend 5 minutes reflecting on how you did. What one area will you focus on for the next day/week, i.e. ask more questions, don’t interrupt others, ask open-ended questions.
Until next time!
As an Organisational Psychologist, and Executive Coach, I have worked with leaders internationally to build resilience and create strategies to become more effective. I have developed an online platform to connect and grow leaders. Please connect if you would like to learn more.
Coaching can be defined as a partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that supports them to identify and take steps that move them between their current reality to where he or she wants to be. The biggest impact of coaching occurs when there is a shift in a person’s thinking, (or aha moments). Shifts in how we perceive the world occur because what we experience changes through the questions that are asked.