Kate Hargreaves, Director at Clear Thinking, shares her thoughts and practical advice about uncovering your Leadership Qualities.
Recently I was talking to a friend who was sharing her thoughts about a job interview that she had endured/enjoyed/experienced (delete as appropriate!).
One particular question that she had found difficult to answer had been about her Leadership Qualities (as it’s something that she never really thinks about) and she was quizzing me on how best to answer this question in the future.
Given that Leadership is something that we have the opportunity to reflect on and talk about during the course of our work at Clear Thinking, it was quite easy for me to rattle off a few things that I thought might be relevant. But if it’s not something you think about often then what follows will help you just as it did my friend when we discussed her situation and explored her Leadership Qualities.
Leadership qualities – what are they?
If your aim is to uncover your personal Leadership Qualities, then the first place to start is to understand what could sit under that descriptive heading. A quick Google search will uncover a myriad of words / qualities / traits that are commonly associated with Leadership including:
Visionary I Forward-Looking I Clear Communicator I Action Orientated I Shows Integrity I Dedicated I Humble I Open I Magnanimous I Creative I Fair I Assertive I Honest I Broad-Minded I Courageous I Straight Forward I and plenty more……
Which words resonate with you? If you were to think of your own personal examples that built a story around these Leadership words, to describe you and how you lead, what themes and trends would emerge?
How does Leadership present itself in your Business or Organisation?
The words above are pretty relevant to most Leadership situations, but it’s also worth reflecting on the positive examples of Leadership that you see in your own organisation. How do they differ to the norm? What are the special Leadership traits that support the unique culture in your business or organisation? What does this enable your organisation to do well? What does your organisation seek to achieve and how does this influence the Leadership style? What can you learn from this?
What about you? How else can you start to recognise and rate your Leadership Qualities?
Sometimes the toughest challenge when talking about Leadership is the ability to recognise where your strengths lie. Luckily there are some simple activities that might help:
- Review the common Leadership terms above and use them as a starting point to inspire your thinking. What examples and personal success stories do you have that link to these words.
- Once you have started to identify your own personal Leadership stories, pick out the recurring themes.
- Consider other people’s opinions as they will have fresh insight and perspective on your Leadership skills. Ask your team for examples of what they see you do well, and ask them about what you could do differently. A simple structure to use is STOP I START I CONTINUE, jot your thoughts under each heading.
- Seek out the opportunity to complete a psychometric instrument like the Team Management Profile™ that will help you to understand your natural leadership preferences
- Complete a Leadership based 360 Feedback to elicit well-rounded feedback from across your peer group, team and line manager.
- Look out for examples of different styles of Leadership in the media and reflect on what resonates with you
Leadership is a personal thing
Ultimately, everyone evolves their own personal brand of Leadership based on a whole range of things including experience, learning, observation and trial & error. It is something that can be tweaked and adjusted as little or as often as you choose.
These are some questions that might help you identify your personal brand of Leadership:
- What do you ultimately want to achieve?
- What works for you?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- What do you want people to say about you?
It is possible that the legacy of your Leadership will remain with those that it touches long after you have moved on, so spending time reflecting on what it is and what it could be is perhaps time well spent.