Self-Leadership: Have You Prepared Yourself to Lead?

“Leadership” has become the new buzzword with people aspiring to be recognized as a leader either informally or by having leadership positions and titles? People are judged more than ever on their leadership skills. I overhead someone say he didn’t get a management position, because he didn’t have enough leadership skills. He then followed this comment with, “How am I supposed to get leadership skills, if they don’t give me the position?” What some fail to realize is that leadership skills are easily developed and honed without having a title or assigned power. Leadership is about influence, and the first step is preparing yourself to lead well before trying to lead others.

How does one prepare for leadership? The first and probably most important step is self-examination. Most people think they are good at sizing up other people and fail to realize they don’t have the same ability to accurately size up themselves. We use a different leadership-underconstruction2lens to judge ourselves than we do others. People are programmed to see themselves in a more positive light than they are—perhaps this is a design of self-preservation.

When you look in the mirror, what do you think people see? We must get honest with ourselves, so we can work on our deficiencies, play to our strengths, and be the best version of ourselves. If you struggle in trying to see yourself in the way others do and want to take steps toward improving your self-leadership, below are options to help you get that accurate feedback.  [Note: Receiving feedback is hard, even when it’s for our own benefit.]

  1. Ask trusted colleagues, friends, and even family what habits and traits you have that are causing more harm than good. How do these attitudes and behaviors affect your relationships? If you can’t think of any people that you can trust with these questions, what might this say about your leadership?
  2. Review your interactions at work, home, and within your community. After each encounter, critique yourself on what you did well and how you could do better? Identify areas of specific improvement even if incremental. What words could you have shared or action taken that may have resulted in a more favorable outcome for all involved.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you have a difficult timing thinking of these, consider taking the Clifton Strength Finders survey.
  4. In your area(s) of weakness, have you made a commitment to improve? Likely a weakness will never become a strength, but can you shore up your weakness so it doesn’t cause undue hardship. If you can’t improve it, can you cover it in a different way such as partnering with someone who has your weakness as a strength?

Leaders know the grave responsibility that comes with leadership and caring for the well-being of those they lead. Leaders are gifted in different ways, and although no leader is perfect, he or she knows his limitations and ensures others get the best of what he or she is capable.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Self-Leadership: Behaviors That Make a Difference

SELF-LEADERSHIP-THROUGH-CHANGEAre you completely satisfied with the condition or performance of your job, marriage, relationships, or personal finances?  If you are like most people, you might agree that one of these areas or another could use more focus or strengthening. Once someone has decided to move down the path of change, the next step may leave a big question mark on how to start.

I propose that sustainable change is rooted in adopting new behaviors, that if practiced long enough, will typically turn into new lifelong habits.  Covey (2004) has studied human behavior and identified seven key habits that differentiate those who are holistically more effective in accomplishing what others do not.   When these habits are applied to various life areas, they can result in impactful change.  In action, Covey (2004) describes these behaviors as:

  1. Takes initiative: decides to be proactive versus reactive
  2. Sets vision: begins with the end in mind
  3. Prioritizes: puts first things first and second things second
  4. Thinks positively: looks for the win-win and not the win-lose
  5. Listens more than speaks: hears versus tells
  6. Solves problems: looks for synergy and compromise
  7. Invests in self-improvement: understands the importance of learning and growing

Each of these seven core behaviors can make a difference in how you perform and how others perceive you.  Should you decide to challenge yourself to improve at one of these habits, I would suggest first rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 highest) on how well you embrace that personal habit.  Next, determine one or two that would be most meaningful to improve.  Then, think of one or two behaviors you could adopt that would increase your self-rating in that area.  Think of it as a SMART challenge, with SMART defined as (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) achievable, (R) relevant and realistic, and (T) time sensitive.

When I review the list, habit #5 stands out for me.  I am highly extroverted, which means I tend to talk more than others.  My SMART challenge is to ensure that there is a pause (silence) in the conversation before I share my next thought.  This will force me to talk less, not interrupt, and listen more. I encourage you to think about your personal habits, determine which one you want to improve upon for greater effectiveness, and create a SMART challenge by which you could measure your progress.

Reference

Covey, S.R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Self-leadership: Building a Leadership Foundation

leadership-underconstruction

Leadership Under Construction

Although many would agree that leadership starts with leading yourself well, they want to know, “What are the practical steps I can take to improve my self-leadership?” I would suggest the first step involve a self-evaluation and personal inventory. Achieving clarity on the following questions can help build that solid foundation from which to grow self-leadership:

 

  1. What do I stand for?
  2. What do I value?
  3. What am I good at and what am I not?
  4. Am I following my passion?
  5. Is my personal vision clear?
  6. Am I excited in what I do and whom I do it with?
  7. Am I making decisions that honor everyone?

Bill Hybels (2009) mentions that great leaders embody several key traits. After addressing the “what and how” questions, a deeper dive into personal characteristics will continue that self-leadership inventory.  On a continuum, leaders should ask themselves which traits they hold strongly and which ones they want to develop further?

  1. Integrity
  2. Optimism
  3. Decisiveness
  4. Courage
  5. Wisdom
  6. Emotional authenticity
  7. Commitment to collaboration

The self-evaluation goal is to become self-full, which is to attend to oneself in a way that allows one to lead self and others well.  At times, leaders can extend themselves so far and for so long that they exhaust themselves and are then not able to give others their best.  Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “Where will I focus my attention and where will I not?” Leaders cannot be all things to all people and should understand their limits. Leaders benefit by scheduling downtime to work on self-leadership and keep themselves energized.

Reference

Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

 

 

Self-Leadership: Mental Muscle Goes Beyond Book Smarts

College student strugglingA recent survey (Morin, 2017) revealed that although students felt academically prepared for college, they expressed concern regarding their lack of emotional preparedness to take care of themselves, adapt to new environments, control negative emotions or behaviors, and build positive relationships.  What happened?  Did the cart get put before the horse?  Did well-meaning parents overinvest in the academic advantage before building a solid foundation of soft skills and competencies that would allow the hard skills and knowledge to flourish?  Unfortunately, many of these intelligent college students are turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of uncomfortable feelings. Heartbreaking! What can be done?  My recommended solution is mental boot camp with a coach.

What happens when we don’t exercise our muscles? You would probably answer, “They get flaccid and lose strength!”  This concept also applies to our mental muscle.  You may ask, “What is mental muscle?” I define mental muscle as the integrated system of intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence (EI), and social intelligence (SI). It requires regular exercise to remain strong and available to solve problems.

You cannot strengthen a muscle by reading how to strengthen it or by observing someone else strengthening theirs.  The only way to grow muscle is to exercise it, which means that likely you will need to put yourself in challenging situations where you will struggle and sometimes fail.  No one would deny that everyone could benefit from a trainer when working out in the gym, and the same concept applies when growing your mental muscle.  Everyone can benefit from a coach, who will be your partner as you work through a life plan, overcome obstacles, and get up and dust yourself off to try a different approach.

Morin (2017) found that although the majority of college students were struggling with emotional preparation and mental strength, nearly half of them felt that everyone else had life figured out but them.  Little did they know that they were not alone!  I encourage all young adults to reach out for a coaching partner.

Reference

Morin, A. (2017). A Survey of 1,502 College Students Revealed This Is the One Skill They Wished Their Parents Had Taught Them. The Inc. Life. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/a-survey -of-1502-college-students-revealed-this-is.html


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.