Monday, June 8, 2009

Assessing Your Leadership Skills

Are you a good leader? It's a hard question to answer, and one that takes serious thought. So where do you look for answers?

Start with your definiton of a good leader. Think of people you've worked with, and how you felt about their leadership. Do you have a leadership role model? Look at your industry and find the top rated leaders there--do they align with your idea of an ideal leader? If you can't think of a person who exemplifies your idea of leadership, begin with listing traits that you feel make a good leader. (For ideas on leadership traits, try visiting Jim Kouzes and Barry Posners Leadership Challenge site.)

Once you've defined the parameters of good leadership, the next step is to evaluate your own leadership qualities. If you feel that leading by example is an important part of good leadership, do you follow that principle? An excellent tool to help you assess general leadership traits can be found on MindTools. Jot down how you measure up to your own leadership standards.

When you look at your definition and your self-assessment, do you see any gaps? Writing this down helps you to find your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you excel at motivating those around you, but you could improve your projection of yourself as a leader.

A self-assessment is the starting point, but also remember to solicit feedback from others. Ask a trusted mentor or supervisor how they would assess you as a leader. And ask someone who works with you outside of the office too. Consider where you shine as a leader; if you are a great leader of your Girl Scout Troop, but less so for your Strategy Team at work, you should find out what you're doing right for the Troop to improve your leadership of the Team.

Always remember that being a good leader means continually assessing your performance and looking for ways to improve. You'll notice that the The Seventh Habit of Highly Effective People is to "sharpen the saw"--meaning go back through the first six habits and apply them to your next level of personal achievement. It's important to know that you can always find some way to improve.

Recommended Reading:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The Leadership Challenge
Head, Heart and Guts

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