Understanding your own leadership abilities

by Jo Ann Sweeney - 10:25 on 07 July 2011

There are so many different ways of defining leadership abilities; and often little clarity within organisations about which abilities are considered important and which are not.

My observations of leaders and managers in numerous companies is that there is little consistency; even between business units within the same organisation.

This makes things tough for leaders lower down organisations. How do we work out the character and competency attributes that will help us succeed?

Leadership abilities – what are they?

Stephen Covey’s book The Speed of Trust has some helpful insights. He defines our capabilities as our natural talents; attitudes; technical, professional, people & communication skills; knowledge and style.

How to wok out which are important? For me the answer is to observe what goes on in your organisation, and also do lots of reading and thinking.

There is no shortage of books, blogs and websites on the topic. Here are some I find particularly useful:

Evaluate yourself

Make some time to evaluate what you think and feel about your own leadership abilities. Here are two quick and easy tools you can use. You’ll find plenty more on Google.

Ask others for their views

Assessing yourself gives one half of the picture; asking others for their perceptions gives you the other half. Here is a feedback tool I regularly recommend from personal branding guru William Arruda

When you take this assessment ask lots of people including your colleagues, family, friends, those you know like you and those you know don’t.

Talk things through with a mentor

Once you have the results from these and any other assessments you take, talk them through with a mentor – or a colleague you trust if you don’t have a mentor.

Someone who can help you see the results through an objective lens and then help you think through what they mean for the way you lead your team is invaluable.

Jo Ann Sweeney is a consultant known for clarifying the complex. She helps organisations and teams use communications to build relationships of trust with internal and external audiences.

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