Don’t worry, although many will be reading this on Election Day here in the US, I’m not going to talk about any of the candidates for this year’s election. As I thought about the purpose of elections, particularly this year, it occurred to me that regardless of your political leanings, the need for leadership is paramount.

Given the season, I thought it would be helpful for leaders to examine your own leadership abilities.

Let’s look at some timeless leadership principles as a way of encouraging you and me to do a bit of a self-assessment. Give yourself a rating of 1-10 on each of the following dozen principles:

  1. Setting a Vision – Do you have a clear, concise and compelling vision of where you want your organization to go or what you want it to become? The vision needs to be compelling so your team can get behind it with enthusiasm. This vision must primarily serve the needs of others and not your own needs. It must be something that is worthwhile in the long term, not necessarily the short term. How would you rate yourself?
  2. Living the Desired Culture – Do you model the culture of your organization in the way you speak, behave, make decisions and interact with others? Do you willingly allow or enable anyone on your team to get away with “counter-cultural” behavior because of the results they bring in? What are you doing to actively promote the desired organizational culture? How would you rate yourself?
  3. Delegation – Do you not put off something to tomorrow that you can delegate to someone today? Do you take into account someone’s motivation and skill level to take on an assignment before delegating? Do you merely assign work to get done and review all the results, or do you empower people to truly handle it from start to finish? How would you rate yourself?
  4. Developing Others – How much time each week do you devote to coaching, encouraging, mentoring and intentionally growing those on your team? How supportive are you in enabling them to attend developmental activities such as seminars, workshops, webinars and the like? Does each person have a coach or mentor assigned to them? Who is ready now for promotion to higher level responsibilities? How would you rate yourself?
  5. Developing Yourself – James Allen wrote, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; therefore they remain bound.” How much time each week do you devote to your growth and development as a leader? Does your development include reading or re-reading great books on leadership? Do you model yourself after a highly successful leader you know personally? Do you have a leadership coach or mentor or inner circle of advisors who have no other agenda but to ensure your success to talk things out with? Can you state specific areas of your leadership growth this year? How would you rate yourself?
  6. Ensuring the Right Things Get Done – Peter Drucker said a leader ensures the right things get done and a manager makes sure things get done right. Where do you fall on this spectrum? Do you assign tasks to others that get them off focus? Do you regularly question how things get done, seeking a more efficient method or questioning the need for the thing in the first place? How would you rate yourself?
  7. Confidence Balanced with Humility – Overconfidence is known as hubris. Many of the well-known leaders who have failed suffered from this character flaw. Others who would not make it for long in a leadership role are overly humble and they are not respected. Hence the need for a balance between these two. As I’ve said before, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. How would you rate yourself?
  8. Imagination and Thought – Nothing new happens without imagination and thought. Do you devote regular time each week to just thinking, or are you too busy doing to have time to think? As James Allen has said, “Until thought is linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.” Do you take calculated risks which can elevate your results? How would you rate yourself?
  9. Influencing – As John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” Are you seeing resistance, compliance or commitment to your attempts to influence others? How would you rate the quality of the relationships you have with those you are trying to influence? Who is influencing you? Are you surrounding yourself with positive, can-do attitude people, or the negative people who don’t want to challenge the status quo? How would you rate yourself?
  10. Setting Priorities – Are you limiting your focus to 3-4 priorities at a time or are you still believing you can have 10 priorities? When you have more than 7 priorities, you have no priorities. How are you at saying “No” when a request comes in that doesn’t match your priorities? Do you have a dashboard or scorecard to inform you of the major metrics of your area of responsibility? Are you working in some area of your top priorities each day? How would you rate yourself?
  11. Decisiveness – Leaders make decisions. They don’t procrastinate. Are you comfortable making decisions when you don’t have all the needed information? Are you comfortable changing your decision when you get new information? Are you willing to take a few risks? Are you willing to embrace mistakes and failures as a great way to learn? How would you rate yourself?
  12. Developing Relationships – The higher you aspire into leadership, the more important relationship building becomes and the less important are the technical skills you developed earlier in your career. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. As a leader, you get results through other people. Do you spend time developing relationships with staff, peers and other colleagues? How would you rate yourself?

Well, how did you do? I know I have some work to continue to do on my development in several areas.

If you are honest, you will have identified room to grow in several of the above areas. Knowing about it is one thing; committing to do something about it is something else.

You may be interested in a book I wrote last year that addresses many of the topics covered above. You can order it here. If you know you want to grow, yet can’t fully determine how to do it, let me know. If there is a way I can be of help, I’ll be more than happy to do so.

Best regards,