SEVEN Powerful Questions to clarify your vision as a Leader
Ideally answer these once you’ve reviewed Authentic Leadership and before you read the rest of this post.
Who are you a leader to/for in all of the areas of your life?
What would those people say about you? (How would they describe you?)
What do you stand for as a person and a leader?
What’s your vision for your own personal and professional success?
Where do they overlap?
How do you actively communicate your vision?
What do you need to address as a result of thinking about these questions?
There is no substitute for one-2-one coaching when it comes to self-improvement and raising your self-awareness, but by thinking into your results in answering these questions you will be doing more than grasping the concept here. You will be contextualising it in your own experience and raising your self-awareness around a critically important topic for anyone who has ambitions to be truly effective in their leadership. Warren Bennis is a well-respected and renowned American psychologist and leadership consultant. He is quoted as saying “The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision. The leader has a clear idea of what he/she wants to do – professionally and personally – and has the strength to persist in the face of setbacks even failures.” Of course, the strength to persist comes from the surety of self. Getting coached around you values and strengths is the easiest and quickest way to get that clarity and confidence. It allows you identify with your true self and put your best foot forward. And a guiding vision is essential, one that is shared by those following it. What is your favoured approach to communicate a guiding vision?
The ‘HOW’ of Leadership
Many leaders understand the WHAT of leadership – Vision, Strategy, Implementation, Management & Control etc. You can get this knowledge from reading a book or attending a seminar. Delivering it successfully is another matter. Few understand the HOW of leadership – painting a compelling picture, ‘moving’ people, guiding emotions and passion, managing energy. This is where the communication of the guiding vision becomes inspirational. Give this some thought: What leaders have you worked for in the past who have inspired you? What was it about their approach to communicating with you and your colleagues that worked so well? How would you like to influence people as a leader? Remember not to try to emulate anyone else. This is about leveraging that which is authentically you.
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
The HOW of leadership is founded in your self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence. I coach senior leaders all of the time around this area. Your IQ peaks when you’re 17 or 18. Your EQ is something that can be developed well in to old age. But you have to make your growth a priority. Self-development is essential to communicate effectively as a leader. Your learned skills and past performance which saw you get promoted to a position of leadership won’t mean that you’re automatically an effective leader. But your strengths – your unique character traits which provide you with your energy and motivation- will provide you with the platform from which you can build your leadership brand. Then you’ll be in a position to communicate as a leader. So leverage them. Become more aware of them. Stephen Covey, author of maybe the greatest ever book on leadership – 7 habits of Highly Effective People states the following:
Inspiration of the oxygen of the soul;
The human spirit yearns to inspire and be inspired and;
Every communication is an opportunity to inspire.
What a great way to frame your opportunity to inspire. You can live and breathe your values and strengths as a leader. You can communicate to the world (or just your team!) through your actions, behaviours and gestures. You don’t have to separate your professional and personal roles as a leader. You can be proud of what you stand for. Remember – communication is 2-way. It’s not about getting a microphone and pointing it towards the team. Effective leadership communication involves listening, involving, trusting, caring, appreciating and having fun too. In the final part of the series I will be talking about your Succession Plan as a leader. How do you get the best out of those you lead so that you’re able to move on to achieve your vision of success as you define it? It involves 2-way communication, of that you can be sure.
Use your summer to get a professional edge
To become more effective than you are right now will require you to grow. To grow, you must become highly intentional about it. This growth has to come through your self-awareness. It comes from introspection, not from gathering more knowledge and information. It’s about understanding yourself – about improving your EQ. You get this through skilled coaching, advanced thinking strategies and a continuous commitment to self-education. Aside from the incredibly positive personal reward experienced in such activities, you’re sure to see a significant return on your investment. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, what does that say about the beliefs you hold about your potential. Food for thought.