Your quarterly self-check at leadership.
August 01, 2008
You are pretty aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, but if someone actually asked you what your leadership looked like, you’d have to think about some of it. You wonder what your blind spots are.
Use these three questions to measure where your personal leadership compass is pointing.
- What do you intend?
- What do you tolerate?
- What are your daily choices?
Leadership comes from initiative. Initiative must be intentional.
So look back now at your last 3 days at the helm as a leader. Revisit your actions and daily decisions. Did you drive them or did they drive you? Would you call yourself an agent or a victim? If your answer begins with “yeah, but .. ” and something about “no control”, then re-examine your posture as a future-setter. The two articles recently added to the website may shed some light for you. (see links below)
You stand for what you tolerate. Think about it. When you talk about someone else as a leader, you often define him (or her) by what he will not put up with, or by what he lets people get away with. By allowing undesirable activities to occur in your area of responsibility, you are defining the boundaries. You send a message – an unintentional one! Again, use the past 3 working days to line out what has happened, where you have held the line, and where you have chosen to let it go.
Curious as to where the road forks? Look at your daily choices – those are your defining moments. Here are some examples.
- Lead an employee through a problem, or let him struggle on his own?
- Trust someone, or look over her shoulder?
- Err on the side of the customer, or back up your customer service rep?
- Take a risk on an investment, or play it safe and lay low?
- Be competitive or be collaborative? Speak out, or hold your tongue?
Thinking you are behaving a certain way can be validated by scrutinizing your actions. Check those decision points and conduct a quick inventory of your daily choices.
Short Little Story
That Twit! by Katie K. Snapp
I once had a co-worker who spoke to me as if I was stupid. He would start his sentences with something like, “you know, young lady, you might find that to be a mistake.” He may have been a sexist .. not sure.
All I know is that I became so completely disoriented that by the time I had listened to his condescending discourse, I had lost my own voice. (I know … hard to imagine).
But at that time, my leadership persona was still being defined and my backbone was unsure. I was being thrown a decision point, and I knew not what to do.
This was a “daily choice.”
Now, with some years under my Gucci belt, I have some weapons. The first one is my composure. The second one is my wit.
When faced now with that situation, I think clearly, revisit my intent, decide I will not tolerate talking at his level and jump into the dialog. “Excuse me.” I interject in a helpful way, and correct one of his misled ideas.
He states, “You know, I have been doing this a long time.”
“I know. That’s my point.”, I reply.