For some people, leadership comes naturally; and for others, it’s something that takes time, patience and experience to build upon. Increasing your effectiveness as a leader is about more than just leading a team, its about self-awareness, self-honesty and personal growth. As John Maxwell put it, “We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.”
Recognizing My Leadership Shortcomings
I’m sure my team can attest to this but, I am not, nor have I been the best leader. In fact, there were times in my life where I could barely lead myself, let alone an entire team. During my career as a school principal and in my current role as the leader of a leadership company, I struggle with communication, consistency and the ability to keep “the main thing, the main thing.” I would often find myself working long hours on the business, but falling flat in results as a leader.
Despite the success of the company, it did not translate into success for the team. Because I lacked the necessary leadership skills to steer the organization, my team would become frustrated and confused by the constant changes and inability to see an initiative through.
What I eventually realized was that, I was a great manager, but not an effective leader. My team’s failure to succeed had nothing to do with the talent on the team, but everything to do with my leadership shortcomings.
Increasing Your Effectiveness As a Leader
We all have a leadership lid. Your leadership ability is the “lid” that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability is to lead, the lower the lid will be on one’s own and the organization’s potential. John Maxwell defined this “leadership lid” as the cap at which our ability to lead will result in the overall success of the organization.
To increase your level of effectiveness, you have two approaches to consider:
- You can decide to dedicate more hours and more energy into increasing the success and excellence of your organization; however, this increased workload will be almost impossible to sustain.
- You can decide to work harder to improve your ability to lead by becoming a student of leadership.
If you do not aspire to increase your leadership ability, your team will grow tired of banging their heads on the “lid” that has been placed on the organization. This could eventually lead to your team falling into complacency or leaving the organization. If you can get a handle on your “led” and put in the work to improve it, great changes in all aspects of your life will be the outcome.
Assessing Your Leadership Abilities
One way of improving your leadership effectiveness is by learning which areas you need to work on from those who interact with you. For this exercise, solicit feedback from a variety of sources such as your boss, spouse, colleagues, and employees to ensure well-rounded results. Ask each of them to rate you on a scale of 1 (low) – 10 (high) in each of the following areas:
- People skills
- Planning and strategic thinking
Average the scores and then compare them against your own assessment. Do you find their scores better or worse than what you expected? Is there a gap? If so, what is the cause? How will you grow and improve in those areas?
13 Actions to Enhance Your Leadership Ability
The road to enhancing your leadership abilities is more like a marathon than a sprint. It takes time, endurance and constant training to improve. More importantly, it takes the desire to want to be better in order to do better. Here are 13 actions you can do to enhance your leadership ability:
- Ask better questions
- Work on your listening skills
- Seek feedback from your most trusted team members (be open to criticism)
- Set time to reflect daily on your schedule, accomplishments, conversations and decisions
- Read books or listen to podcasts on effective leadership (here is a list of books I have read over the past two years)
- Get a mentor or coach
- Visit other effective organizations
- Join or start a Mastermind Group with other leaders
- Schedule your priorities (break the busy from your schedule)
- Intentionally pull yourself out of your comfort zone
- Intentionally grow your team members through mentoring and coaching
- Give away power (each day, find one item on your to-do list to trust a team member to complete)
- Improve your health (exercise daily, eat right and learn to meditate)
Leadership Growth Challenge: Identify one person whom you feel is the “ideal successful leader.” Spending 30 minutes with them, and ask them questions about your leadership style and abilities. To help you get started, here are a few questions to consider during your discussion:
- When did you first see yourself as a leader?
- What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced as a leader?
- What has contributed to your growth as a leader?
- What are you currently doing to grow as a leader?
- What is the best piece of advice that you would have for someone who aspires to be an effective leader?
- Who do you know that I should know?
This blog was written by Dr. Thomas Miller, transformational coach and strategic thinking partner for Leaders Building Leaders. To schedule a complimentary discovery call with Tom click this link. Your discovery call will consist of questions like:
- What challenges are you or the organization currently facing?
- What keeps you up at night worrying?
- What challenges and obstacles do they foresee over the next 6-12 months that may test the team’s weak points?
- What is it that they personal struggle at in meeting this challenge?
- What would their organization look/feel like operating at its optimum level?
- What does personal success look like to you?