My friend and coaching colleague, Deb Ingino, posted this a week or two ago and I thought I’d pass her words of wisdom to you, along with some of my commentary. I suggest you give yourself a quick assessment as to whether your leadership style shows evidence of these characteristics on a regular basis.
- Successful Leaders Are Confident, Yet Humble– There is a big difference between confidence and hubris. Author Jim Collins speaks about this often in his writings. Confidence comes through reflecting on past successes and knowledge one has gained, while humbly accepting the successes were never completely self-induced – there was always one or more people aligning with the leader to make something great happen.
- Successful Leaders Don’t Hide Mistakes, They Admit Them– We all make mistakes and we all know that we make mistakes. If we ever arrived to the point in our leadership of no longer making mistakes, we would no longer be human. If you are not making mistakes, you are not taking enough risks, and you certainly are not learning or growing either. Successful leaders are always growing and desire to accomplish more. But it’s impossible to maintain the status quo and expect to achieve greater success without learning from mistakes along the way.
- Successful Leaders Don’t Pretend To Be Something They Are Not– You know you are gifted in a few things; a few skills or particular knowledge seems to come easy for you. There are also some things, likely a great many things, you are not terribly gifted in. It might feel like you were absent from school on the day (or week or month or semester) when a particular skill was taught! Successful leaders know their gifting and they know equally well their deficiencies and blind spots. They are comfortable with this knowledge and don’t try to be all things to all people.
- Successful Leaders Are True To Principles– I’ve often said, “Decisions are easy when you know what you stand for.” Successful leaders have a number of values or principles which guide their thinking and actions. Usually, these principles don’t change, either situationally or over time. Leaders who have a service mindset — who are humble and honest in their dealings — are being true to certain principles they hold dear.
- Successful Leaders Are Not Too Proud To Ask For Advice– Asking for advice is not a sign of weakness by any means. On the contrary, it is a sign of inner strength and confidence on the part of the leader who desires to surround him or herself with people smarter than they are. They can rely on people who are more familiar with details and more knowledgeable about a particular topic or issue. The root of this confidence is the trust the leader has for others on the team – trust in their capabilities and trust that they know what they are doing. They also trust that together, the team is much, much more effective than any individual, including the leader.
- Successful Leaders Don’t Always Have To Be Right– This characteristic is similar to points 2 and 3 above. Being right all the time means you are playing way too safe as a leader. There are many instances leaders lack all the information needed to make a decision, yet they make one anyway to keep momentum going strong. It is often easier to tweak a decision than it is to restart the whole process from a dead stop because momentum was lost while waiting for more information. Leaders aren’t always right – no one is. Successful leaders are okay with this.
- Successful Leaders Don’t Get Defensive When Challenged– These leaders know the value of challenges; it helps them grow and consider different perspectives. It allows them to see more and will often lead to a better solution or approach. Challenges are not only possible, but welcomed when the leader practices all of the characteristics mentioned above.
How did your self-assessment come out? Be totally honest because no one but you will know. Which one of the characteristics may be a blind spot for you? Which one is so strong, you hardly think about it anymore because it is so deeply ingrained in you? Who can you ask to help you enhance one of these areas of growth? If you can’t find anyone, or don’t want to admit it to anyone, let me know – I can most likely help you. Best regards, Bill