Best is an effort. Better is a destination. You can give, try and even do your best, but you will never be your best! We have learned that Great Leaders are in a constant and perpetual pursuit of Better; for themselves, their people, their organizations and their communities.
This post was written for aspiring and seasoned leaders alike, who are serious about their journey towards Better. 7 key considerations are offered here, to help all leaders move towards greater leadership capacity.
One of the most important things you can do for your people is, continue getting to know yourself better. As a human being, you also have your own unique needs, values, goals and strengths (CORE 4). It is not uncommon that important work and/or challenging work environments can disconnect all of us, to differing degrees, from our own sources of purpose, meaning and motivation.
To be more effective as a leader, it is critical for you to be purposeful in your reflections. Make connecting with your CORE 4 (needs values, goals, strengths) as a leader a priority; What do you feel you need to be more effective as you carry out your role as a leader? What is most important to you? What do you value? What do you hope to accomplish in that role?
We encourage all leaders to reflect on what we refer to as THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS a leader can answer; they are offered in a 20 minute podcast called, Page One: 5 Essential Questions for Greater Leadership.
Start with Strengths
Prior to looking at the areas you would like to develop further, start with your strengths. If you are wondering why; you may want to review the profound impacts of a strengths focus offered in the post “Start with Strengths: Strategies for Inspiring Higher Performance”. Once you start looking, you will find many things that you are doing well. Consider building on the areas that you are already doing well as a leader and then move toward additional priorities that are important to you and your team members.
Develop a Plan
As stated in the opening of this post, great leaders are in constant pursuit of improving their leadership. We can always be better. What does better leadership capacity mean to you? Consider what it looks like. Our hope with this and previous work offered at the CORE Leader is to affirm and validate what you are already doing well and to provide insights, strategies, and tools to develop your capacity further. You may have already started making use of some of the methods presented. See a list of the of additional resources here.
It is critical that you develop and record your own leadership development plan; write it out or document it in some way. This can be the difference between whether the goals are merely perceived or, achieved. Be sure to start with your strengths and start with small, realistic, and achievable steps.
Remember that better can develop in increments, and small steps can add up to massive results. Consistent efforts towards better can sometimes take us well beyond what we once thought best might be. Share your plan with people who care about and support your development. They will serve as valuable resources on your journey toward better leadership.
Construct Pathways for Feedback
Leaders cannot accurately assess their own effectiveness as leaders. Remember that quality leadership is determined by the perceptions and experiences of others—most importantly, the employees and team members. Feedback from others is essential and operates as the key ingredient to initiate and enhance leadership capacity. It is important to do what you can to make as many avenues possible for people to provide you with feedback. More importantly, those avenues must be easy to access, comfortable, and safe for them.
Take ALL Feedback Seriously
All feedback is important! Remember that all behavior contains needs, values, and goals that are operating. When someone attempts to provide feedback, there is something going on, something being communicated that we must pay attention to, whether it be positive or not so positive. It is the latter type of feedback and the ability to take it seriously that may be one of the most difficult aspects of leadership.
Feedback that evokes the greatest reaction, must be taken the most seriously. Be aware of the reactive possibility to defend or dismiss the feedback. Stay calm and tune into you. Ask yourself this meaning-making question: What do I know about how I’m feeling in response to what I’m hearing? There is a good chance that you will learn something about yourself. Anger and frustration are often a result of our own needs being unmet, our values being challenged, our goals being blocked and/or our strengths not being recognized or used.
When leaders take all feedback seriously and work to actively integrate the meaning embedded within it, they will advance their own leadership ability, thereby enhancing the quality of the experience for their members.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Getting to better takes practice. Consider the amount of time and energy most professional athletes put into their own skill development. They practice at practice so that they can be better in the game. Professional athletes rarely practice something new in a game situation as the chance of poor performance may interfere with their end goal. Consider your goals as a leader. Do you practice in the game or out of the game?
It is critical that leaders take the time to practice and sharpen their leadership skills. Remember that when leaders do well, so do their people and the people they serve.
Consider setting some time aside to practice. You may want to connect with the people you trust, who support your development so that you may practice, practice, practice.
It may be strange for some to read “have fun” as a final consideration pertaining to leadership development; however, it may be the most important one. It is not uncommon, when people are reflecting on the greatest leadership experience in their careers to mention fun as an aspect of that experience. Fun is important in most situations and becomes even more important to keep things positive, to buffer the stress of the challenges inherent in important work, tough times and trying work environments. Fun makes good days great and the worst days better.
Consider connecting with the things that you appreciate about the work. Consider the things that contribute to work being positive, exciting, and fun. Consider asking your team members individually and/or as a group to share the things that contribute to their experience of work as positive, exciting, and fun as they carry out their very important work
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