Understanding Yourself and Others
Becoming a successful leader is a journey of our own self development.
In order to lead others, we need to be able to relate to and connect with people, their motivations, needs and aspirations and in the case of transformational or charismatic leadership, their deepest values and core beliefs.
Before others are willing to be lead by us, they will want to connect to something within us - something that is authentic, real and true.
This is why when we talk about leadership, we often focus on ‘authentic leadership’ or being an ‘authentic leader’.
In order to be an authentic leader, we need to be a person that others can relate to. We need to know ourselves, our beliefs and values and how they manifest in our attitudes, behaviours and actions and in the impact that we have on others.
We need to direct our self development so that we understand:
- Our strengths so that we can deploy them;
- Our weaknesses so that we can manage them; and
- The qualities, skills and behaviours that we need to develop in order to lead, motivate and inspire others
Personal Development: Developing Self Awareness
Before you can plan your personal development you need to develop your self awareness and assess your strengths and development needs.
There are several ways that you can approach this:
- Self assessment / questionnaires: there are many leadership skills and qualities self assessments available
- Formal assessment e.g. through a leadership training programme in your workplace
- Feedback and discussion with your leader or other senior stakeholders
- 360 degree feedback
- Working with a coach or mentor
- Self monitoring and reflection on your outward behaviour and its observable impact; what has worked well / not so well in the past?
In all cases where you are being assessed or receiving feedback from others, try to assess yourself on the same basis at the same time. Then answer these questions:
- How close is your own internal view of yourself to the way that others see you?
- What is the likely cause of any divergence of views?
- Do you understand how outward displays of your personality, attitudes and behaviour influence others’ perceptions of you?
- How does your personality, attitudes and behaviour impact others (e.g. their motivation, emotions and behaviour) in the workplace?
- How would you rate your level of self-awareness? Where are your blind spots?
Related topics for iWise2 members:
Finally, in order to understand yourself and your willingness to lead others you should also take a detailed look at what really drives you. What drives you will influence what you value and enjoy, your attitudes and behaviours in the workplace and is likely to provide insight into your strengths and talents.
To find out what drives you, work through the comprehensive ‘What Drives Me’ questionnaire in the Setting Your Goals Workbook.
This 39 page workbook is free to iWise2 members and works through a series of activities to help you identify what drives you and makes you happy, define goals that reflect what you really want and build action plans to achieve them. Try iWise2 for just £1.
With all of this information, you should now be able to answer the following:
- What qualities, skills, strengths and behaviours do I have that positively influence my ability to lead others?
- What values, attitudes and behaviours reduce or limit my ability to connect with and lead others?
- What qualities, skills, strengths and behaviours do I need to develop or strengthen in order to improve my ability to lead and bring out the best in others?
- What drives me as a person, and how authentically do I reflect my inner self in my observable personality and behaviour?
Your Personal Development Plan
After assessing your development needs, the next step is to:
- Set your personal development goals
- Document the actions that you need to take in order to achieve them in a Personal Development Plan (PDP).
Set milestones to track your progress towards your development goals. You can work towards your goals either, alone or with your leader, a coach or a mentor.
You might find formal or classroom training that meets your needs, or you might focus on learning from your own experience or trialling new behaviours in set situations to see if you can achieve more effective leadership outcomes.
Understanding Others: leadership is about connection, not projection
Leadership is not a one-way ‘outward’ projection; to be successful, it needs to understand and respond effectively to the needs of followers and the leadership situation.
As a leader, this will also help you understand others. The topics in this section will help you:
- Understand personality, including how this is likely to influence attitudes and behaviours in the workplace and the implications that this has for motivation and performance;
- Understand attitudes and their relevance in the workplace, including how they can influence behaviours and job satisfaction
- Understand behaviour, a key determinant of our ability to succeed at work as well as to lead and motivate others
- Improve the way that you engage with, manage and motivate people as individuals;
- Work with others to improve their attitudes and behaviour in order to improve performance.
Understanding emotions also helps us understand our response to change, and the behaviour of our people during times of change. This is a very important aspect of helping people and teams cope with change and implement successful organizational change.
Many of these topics and their detailed presentations are only available to our members.
Want detailed guidance on how to be an effective leader?
Download Leading Effective Teams NOW - free with your 14 day iWise2 Membership trial or buy it without Membership for £12.99 (around US$21.00) from our e-books store or in paperback from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.