Most people think about leading others when they hear or read the term "Leadership," but self-leadership is where it starts. How can you lead others on the job or at home if you are not effectively living your own life? When I work with clients on leadership development, a large part of the effort is focused on understanding what they are best at and exploring ways to leverage those strengths to perform at a higher level. Understanding how authentic they are and how that translates into their leadership style is critical. Let's look at this more closely.
We all enter the world, each with our own unique qualities and personality traits. In my case, I recall being reminded by my parents that it was fortunate the mold was either broken or lost just after I arrived. You can only imagine how relieved I was to learn that there is in fact, no mold and we all possess certain uniqueness that causes us to think and do things differently from one another. As we travel through childhood, adolescents and on to adulthood, our experiences continue to change and shape who we are reflected through our behavior. This is especially true as it relates to leadership. A leader's success is largely measured by getting things done through others, while balancing the competing influences that exist within organizations that are under tremendous pressure to outperform the competition. It can cause a leader to lose perspective on how they view themselves versus the actual behavior that others experience.
An honest and comprehensive self-assessment, whether using a formal diagnostic tool or not, is necessary to become more aware of your attitudes, your behaviors, and what makes you "tick". This awareness will also allow you to better understand how people see you and help you improve your relationships and dealings with others. The saying that "Illumination is 80% of remediation" helps us realize how important this personal "look in the mirror" can be. As you achieve a better understanding of your strengths, it is important to realize that no matter how developed you are in these areas, there is always room for improvement. Further developing your strengths, and using them more often, will make them even more valuable and help you be more successful.
Yet, often, people neglect their strengths and focus more on their weaknesses and skills they don't have. My friend Jay Niblick, president of Innermetrix, likes to say that "We possess talents, but we manufacture weaknesses." Similarly, Peter Drucker has challenged us all to "make our weaknesses irrelevant". The point is that none of us can be great at all things, and to try to be so is frustrating, time-consuming and, at times, self-defeating. Find the personal and professional situations and environments that allow you to use your strengths and accentuate the positive, instead of focusing on your weaknesses and the negative. An expert in the field, Dr. Robert Hartman once said, "Instead of trying to put in what God left out, [work] with what He put in." In a research poll of millions of workers, only one-third reported that they were engaged in the kind of work they do best. It's no wonder so many businesses are characterized by apathy and mediocrity instead of passion and excellence.
So, first, identify your strengths and then work to strengthen and make them more valuable. You will achieve better outcomes and experience more enjoyment as a result. Focus on the positive and what you are good at and don't devote too much of your time and energy shoring up your weaknesses. As. Marshall Goldsmith, put it: "There are a lot of things I stink at. I just make sure I don't have to do them to be successful."
As always, we would appreciate your feedback and comments, and thanks for your interest in what we are doing you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org