My Leadership Reflection: What Do You See?

I am blessed to have four nieces and a nephew – and they couldn’t be more different in personality.  One niece is our little performer.  She is eager and willing to “strike a pose” at any time and doesn’t miss a chance to be the center of attention. 

One thing I’ve noticed about her is her interest in mirrors.  She loves to watch herself and it doesn’t matter what she’s doing – eating dinner, “singing”, playing with her hair, etc.  She truly likes and enjoys what she sees.  And truthfully, she is entertaining.

As you think about your own leadership skills, what do you see when you look in the mirror?

In these days of economic turmoil, many companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to re-tool, so to speak, and get back to the basics of business.  And one of the most critical basics to assess is the quality of leadership skills in your team.

But…before we can assess others, an honest look in the mirror – personally -is necessary.

Let me encourage you to pause today in your marketplace role and take a long gaze in the mirror.  Reflect on these three questions in assessing your personal leadership effectiveness:

1.  How would individuals on my team describe my leadership

If my team members were asked this question – without any qualifiers – what adjectives would they use to describe my leadership abilities?  Are expectations and goals clear?  Do they know specifically if they are doing well in a particular area or is there some room for improvement?  Do I routinely engage with them – beyond work topics?  Do they know how the business is doing?

2.  When is the last time I helped a peer achieve his/her goals?

Am I known as a real team player among my peers?  Let’s face it.  The hours in any given day are often quickly snatched with the emergencies of the day – often not due to our own negligence.  Or, we try to sneak in as many minutes as possible to simply get caught up on our own projects and tasks.

While these efforts are important, so are the relationships around you.  The key to this question is really in two parts.  Have I helped a colleague recently?  If your answer is yes, then good.  So consider part two of the question.  How long ago did I help someone else?  “I helped Bob six months ago,” is eons ago in today’s world and in the minds of our co-workers.

The benefit to helping others?  Actually, there are many. The first of which is the reality that helping someone else will impact the greater good. People don’t soon forget when others stop their world and extend a hand when it really isn’t convenient.  They remember someone took the time to help, support and encourage someone else. 

It’s the stuff healthy cultures are made of.  And let’s face it, there will be a day when you will need another do the same for you.

3.  Do I have a realistic view of my strengths and weaknesses?

As humans, we tend to fall into one of two camps.  We are either 1) our own worst critic, or 2) we have blind spots in our performance and refuse to see them.  Let me encourage you to take an honest look at what you do well – and find opportunities that will continue to hone those skills. 

Likewise, identify those gaps in your skill set (we can’t be great at everything) and find ways to shore up those deficiencies.   This does not mean perfect every weakness, but rather surround yourself with people who complement your skills.  They need your strength – and you need theirs.

We’ll focus more on this topic in future articles, but in the meantime, make the effort to gain a realistic profile of your total skill set.   The principle?  I can’t begin to move forward if I don’t know where I am.

So, what do these questions reveal about my leadership effectiveness?  They speak to three key leadership traits:  communication, initiative to help others, and a realistic view of strengths and weaknesses.

These three questions are not “easy” topics to consider.  In fact, they are quite reflective.  But I assure you.  The time is well spent.  And the outcome?  Your leadership reflection is one you and others can’t stop looking at.

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