Leadership can be simply defined as “the act of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal”.
What this means in practice, and what it takes to be a “good” leader has been a topic of discussion for thousands of years. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the different aspects of Leadership and how they may be applied to everyday situations.
As a leader – whether as a CEO or someone captaining the school football team – a good place to start is within. Developing a sense of self awareness is critical to being able to understand how others see you, as well as realising what your own innate strengths and weakness are. As ever, Drucker has a helpful quote: “self-assessment is the first action requirement of leadership, the constant re-sharpening and refocusing and never being really satisfied”
This refers to self-assessment – but I believe it needs to be more profound than this. In order to provide a useful assessment of your own performance it needs to be put in a context. Self-awareness does this by looking at oneself from multiple perspectives. It can be thought of as developing an external image of how the people with whom you the leader are interacting see you, but also by realising how you see other people. What underlying assumptions do you have about the group in general – also about specific people? Are these assumptions really based on the group or individuals – or are they internal to those you have carried over from previous roles, or as part of the way you see the world?
A good leader must understand people. To do this you must be able to recognise how you react to them at a subconscious level as well – as this can help inform you about what your underlying concerns are, and perhaps how this will come across in verbal and physical communication. Most people have an instinctive reaction to aspects of others, but have never really thought about what these criteria are.
As an exercise, try writing down the 3 or 4 criteria that you use when you first meet someone. What does this tell you about yourself? How could this impact the way that you react to different people? As a leader – does this change anything about your style – or the way you assess yourself?
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Calum Byers, August 2017
Calum is an executive coach with The Scala Group. He has extensive experience of business transformation, and a background in the technology industry.