Friday, October 30, 2015

Leadership Assessment: Do You Have These 5 Attributes?

I’ve worked closely with enough business leaders to get a feel for what makes them tick. There are good ones and . . . less-good ones, of course, but after a while you begin to see patterns and similarities and you can’t help but put together a picture of those attributes the good ones have in common.
There are the traits that every good employee has--like being talented, focused, smart, and knowledgeable--but being a leader requires something different.There is something about people who can lead talented, focused, smart people and get them to dig deep, to do their best work, and emotionally invest in reaching a common goal. What is that? What are those attributes?
The assessment
Each of the following five traits is important. Every leader is different, but for the purposes of this assessment, we’re going to give each attribute the same point value. After reading the description, honestly evaluate yourself and think about where and how you can improve.
1. Ego
We’ve turned this word into a pejorative for some reason. But let’s start by separating “ego” from “egotistical.” Having self-esteem and even a sense of your importance is vital for a healthy life--personally and professionally.
Beyond that, and far more important here, is that faith in yourself is the armor you need to deflect the arrows of naysayers and the weight that negativity places upon you. Being able to honestly assess your self-worth gives you the confidence to inspire, to lead, and to move forward in the face of doubt and criticism. Leaders get this.
Ask yourself: Do I have enough conviction in myself, my vision, and my abilities to ask others to follow me?

2. Understanding your limitations
The flipside of knowing what you’re great at is knowing your weaknesses. It’s a really good idea to surround yourself with talented people, but it’s a far better idea to surround yourself with a complementary team of people who are great at the things you’re not great at. The ability to honestly assess your weaknesses allows you to fix things not with a tool, but a box of tools.

3. DriveHave you heard the one about the great leader who worked eight hours a day and left his work at work? Yeah, me either. 
For good or bad, leaders are always on, always thinking about how to accomplish their goals, how to solve problems, and they find inspiration everywhere. Their work consumes a large proportion of their lives and it is the lens through which they view nearly all of their experiences. They are driven to succeed by unknown forces, and see accomplishing their professional goals as indistinguishable from their personal ones.

4. Vision
I’ve had several conversations about this word recently, and it seems to mean something different to everyone. That’s understandable for a word so nebulously defined, so let’s start with a common meaning.
Vision is the ability to see things that aren’t, but could be. It is the ability to see the picture in the puzzle while most of the pieces are still in the box. It is an offshoot of strategic thinking that allows you to see what is possible with the resources available and those not yet available.
But there's more than one kind of visionary. Or maybe there are different levels.Leaders with vision have the ability to think differently--bigger, bolder, and in unexpected ways. These are the people who can look off in the unexplored distance and describe a destination where no one else has been. As far as I can tell, this is a rare gift that can be honed, but not taught.

5. Motivation and inspiration
A single strand can lift a pound. A thousand strands, aligned and braided, can lift most anything.
Motivating others to do their best, to work their hardest to accomplish a goal, may be the single most important gift any leader can have. You can gather together the greatest group of talent the world has ever seen, but only someone with the ability to inspire can get them working as a team.
There’s more than one way to get people to work for you, of course, but the ability to inspire--to make people WANT to do their best for you--is a rare gift. Bribery shifts the focus from the goal to the reward, and muddies the waters. Fear will make people overtly supportive and inwardly subversive. Only that intangible bond of devotion that a great leader can create can make people adopt your vision, your mission, your joy in success, and your pain in failure.
The people I’ve seen do this the best had a parental demeanor that made you want to please them. And when you failed, you felt the sting of disappointment deeply. Freud would probably have a field day with the forces at work here, but I’ve seen it time and time again.

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