What kind of leader am I?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Once you have started to identify your own personal Leadership stories, pick out the recurring themes.
  3. 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.
  4. Seek out the opportunity to complete a psychometric instrument like the Team Management Profile™  that will help you to understand your natural leadership preferences
  5. Complete a Leadership based 360 Feedback to elicit well-rounded feedback from across your peer group, team and line manager.
  6. 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.

The Power Of Appreciation

This week I’ve been collating a series of 360 feedbacks for one of our clients as part of a Management Development Programme and one of the things that I’ve noticed is the great care and attention that some people have taken in order to provide high quality feedback for their colleagues.

If you’ve ever had your own 360 Feedback experience, getting really specific, relevant feedback is the thing that makes a huge difference and so when people take the time out from their busy schedules to make a contribution; it has a really positive impact and I think that it deserves some appreciation.

With this in mind, today I have singled out a handful of feedback ‘stars’ and have contacted them with a quick personal email to say that it has been noticed and greatly appreciated, and I’ve been surprised and delighted by the responses that I’ve had. These are some of the comments:

“Thanks, but no need to thank me at all I am just glad that my feedback can hopefully be of some use”

“Thanks very much for the lovely email, much appreciated”

“That’s really kind of you so thank you. I know how much it helped me last year and wanted Chris to benefit as much as I did”

“No problem – glad to be of some help”

“No worries and thank you for your kind words”

Given the positive reaction, I’ve no doubt that these individuals will take just as much care and attention the next time they are asked to offer their opinions and observations about a colleague. It does make me wonder how many opportunities to reinforce positive behaviour, that should be recognised, encouraged and celebrated, are actually missed. Our work lives are fast paced and intense so sometimes I suspect there’s not much room left for meaningful appreciation.

It perhaps seems that heartfelt appreciation is something that can be easily overlooked and undervalued, but it is simple to do and can have a hugely positive impact. I hope that by taking the time to notice and value outstanding contribution, we can all encourage others to continue to contribute at a higher level of performance, and allow them to bask a rosy glow of satisfaction, recognition and appreciation once in a while.

Some questions to get you thinking….

  1. When was the last time that you took time out to properly appreciate someone’s contribution with something more than a quick Thank you? What specifically did you say? How did the recipient respond? And how did it make you feel?
  2. If you reflect on your week, who is the person that stands out in your mind for their contribution, and could benefit from your heartfelt appreciation? What did they do and what would you say about it?
  3. How has appreciation affected your personal performance? What did someone say and how did it make a difference to you?
  4. What are your tips for making people feel appreciated?

We’d love to hear your appreciation stories

Kate