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"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." John F. Kennedy

What are the adjectives of leadership? Charisma, vision, innovation, power? The biggest predictor of success isn't any of these. It's a high level of self-awareness.

Forbes' contributor Victor Lipman calls it a "quieter ancillary quality" that enables the high-octane ones to work." Leaders need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses so they can continue to learn, grow, develop - and inspire their people do to the same.

We also need to stop and look in the mirror regularly. Sometimes the roadblocks we're encountering are not "out there" on the path, but within us, in our own unrecognized, stunted growth.

When that mirror check comes for you, this list can provide an accurate reflection of business leadership skills:

Employee Development/Coaching - You help the key players on your team get on track when they lack direction. You recognize and nurture their unique skills and abilities.

Goal Orientation - The choices you make all reinforce your commitment to near and long term goals.

Personal Effectiveness - You consistently meet and exceed expectations. You fulfill the promises you make - both to yourself, and to others.

Customer Service - You make customers feel important and recognize the connection between your product or service, and their needs.

Continuous Learning - You seek to better yourself by mastering new skills, exploring new ideas and engaging with innovative people.

Persuasion - You are able to alter the viewpoints of others, showing them how they benefit from taking a different approach. You open people's minds to ideas and opportunities they would not have previously considered.

Presenting - Whether standing before a large crowd or an audience of one, you are confident, and convey your ideas with an engaging style.

Planning/Organizing - You make use of scheduling tools, timelines and agendas to coordinate the details of your life, business and projects.

Leadership - You can effectively guide individuals and teams towards a higher function or purpose, coordinating disparate opinions and motivations around a common goal.

Analytical Problem Solving - You are able to deconstruct complex concepts and tasks to understand and manipulate their unique components.

Teamwork - You enjoy collaborating with others. When participating on a team project, you value the success of the group equally to, or beyond, your own.

Self-Management (time and priorities) - You can easily decide when and where to allocate your energies. Your methodical approach to decision making insulates you from stress.

Conflict Management - You stay calm in heated situations, seeking first to identify the source of disharmony. You recognize multiple perspectives and seek out a common goal to focus upon.

Interpersonal Skills - You are confident and relaxed in social/professional situations.

Diplomacy - Peers, subordinates and colleagues respect you for your ability to mediate. You find redeemable qualities in most individuals or concepts.

Decision Making - While you may consult others for advice, you are confident in your ability to take action without undue procrastination.

Negotiation - You are able to define and defend the terms of your participation in a negotiation, and walk away if your minimum goals cannot be met.

Written Communication - You simplify complex topics in your writing, succinctly conveying key aspects to your audience, and soliciting a response when needed.

Creativity/Innovation - You like to think 'outside the box,' and can express yourself in creative or unconventional ways. You become enchanted by your own ideas and gain energy from exploring them.

Flexibility - You are responsive, resilient and open to feedback from others. You prefer not to close doors to the opportunities that unforeseen events might present.

Empathy - You easily place yourself in the shoes of others, and regularly consider how your actions and decisions might affect the individuals involved.

Strategic Thinking - You keep your eye on the ultimate goal, and orchestrate all processes and decisions around it. You consider variables, and plan for alternate scenarios.

Management - In contrast to leadership, which looks to the future and deals with people, you can orchestrate processes, plans and resources to obtain the desired outcome.

Leadership is a continual journey. Along the way, individuals have to examine the areas in which they shine and those in which they need improvement. They have to leverage strengths and figure out how to overcome deficits. Self-awareness may be a "quieter" quality, but it is a powerful advantage for leaders.


Larry Hart

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