Can leadership qualities be developed? If not, most people would be excluded from leadership roles.

I recently pulled an old John Maxwell book, ‘Becoming a Person of Influence’, off my bookshelf and as I was flipping through it I was inspired (influenced!) by how he used the word INFLUENCE as an acronym for the traits of influential people.

I thought the acronym method would be great for an idea I have for my upcoming fifth book about leadership qualities. Before I launch into writing the whole book, I’ll start with a blog.

Inspired by Maxwell, I’ll define leadership qualities using the acronym LEADERSHIP. This article will focus on the first 3 of 10 leadership qualities…

Learning

learning

Leaders are readers and learners are earners. Each level of management brings with it new challenges. While the tried and true methods of good leadership remain constant, how you apply them changes. Continuous learning is important so you can remember to use the tools you have to solve your new challenges.

Sometimes after a training I’ll hear someone say ‘I didn’t learn anything new.’ I always feel sorry for those people. I’ve been teaching, learning, and practicing leadership for almost 20 years and I learn something new every time I teach a class. More specifically, I learn a new way to apply a classic method to a current problem I’m facing.

Develop your skillset by challenging yourself to find new ways of applying information you’re already familiar with.

Earnestness

willingness

I really wanted to say willingness but that starts with a ‘w’ so I went to the thesaurus and found earnestness to be a good substitute. The point is, good leaders have a willingness to try. In the training sessions I facilitate, I see leaders who are willing to at least try to apply what they learned and others who are so close-minded that they automatically say ‘It won’t work for me’ and give a list of reasons why it won’t.

One situation that has been coming up recently has been how to get upper management’s approval for resources. I teach a very specific technique that works 99% of the time (ask me why it doesn’t work 1% of the time). But some managers won’t even try because they think it won’t work for them. If they don’t try they’ll never know and they could miss out on great opportunities for themselves and their teams.

My general rule of thumb is this: If what you’re doing is working, keep doing it. But, if what you’re doing isn’t working, why not give it a try? A leader who refuses to even try something new doesn’t stand a chance. They remain stuck and they limit their opportunities for advancement.

Develop your skillset by challenging yourself to try a technique you’ve learned even if you’re skeptical about the chance of it succeeding.

Awareness

awareness

Awareness includes the ability to make an accurate self-assessment of leadership styles, communication styles, personality style, strengths, weaknesses, emotional reactions, and stressors, among other things. There are many ways to improve awareness including assessments, doing an in-depth inventory, and asking for feedback from others.

Oh yes, the gift of feedback! I remember the first time I received feedback from my team through a 360 Feedback process. I was shocked to learn that I was perceived as unapproachable. I didn’t think I was unapproachable, in fact I loved when my team talked to me. It didn’t really matter what I thought. What mattered was what they saw. And what they saw was that when I was busy at my desk focused on my work, I looked intense and unapproachable. Perception is reality. I was putting off a vibe that said ‘don’t bug me’, regardless of my intent. Thankfully I received that gift of feedback. I am now very aware of how I look when I’m focused on a task at hand and can make adjustments so I look a little more approachable.

Develop your skillset by giving yourself an honest self-appraisal or take a personality assessment.

Build and develop a leader’s mindset from the inside and it will be demonstrated on the outside and people will view you as a strong leader!

Leadership Qualities (Part One)
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