, Developing Real Leadership: The 5 BIG Mistakes ( # 4)

Developing Real Leadership: The 5 BIG Mistakes ( # 4)

February 22nd, 2012 Posted by Leadership Coaching, Leadership Tools, Life Coaching

Not having a clear development plan for each leader…

For most people who want to develop their career they would look at the qualifications needed to excel in that role.  For example, if I was a junior project manager I might focus on getting a PRINCE2 qualification or work towards gaining the points needed to sit the Project Management Institute (PMI) exam and gain accreditation.  However, what does a development plan look like for a leader?

“Self-development correlates with performance and potential at the manager level though it is not perceived to be important.  Being skilled at self-development involves a strong commitment to self-improvement and active effort toward using strengths and making up for weaknesses.  Managers tend to be average at this, and we know that it is moderately difficult to develop.  However, the simple act of acknowledging the value of self-development can provide managers with more opportunities to put this critical skill into practice” (Orr, & Sack, 2009).

Because leadership is primarily associated with honing our soft-skills the approach is a little different.  Firstly, as mentioned above, developing leadership competencies is largely a personal journey.  There are five steps to this process and I would like to concentrate on the first two in this section of the paper.

The first step on the journey is to create a vision of what type of leader we want to be.  What are the attributes, the competencies, the characteristics and the behaviours we want to exhibit?  The next step is to develop an accurate awareness of our strengths and our development opportunities…and this is where most people fall down.  As human beings, we are very unconscious to ourselves and often have a skewed picture of who we think ourselves to be and who others think we are.  Our delusions become a serious liability when we need to change (Goldsmith, & Reiter, 2007).  A study of CEOs of health services companies by Eric Harter, CEO of Health Care Partners in Lexington, Kentucky, found that self-awareness of leadership abilities was greatest for CEOs of the best performing companies and poorest for CEOs of the worst performers (Boyatzis, Goleman, & McKee, 2002).  The decisions made by self-aware people generally mesh with their values and therefore, they more often find their work energizing (Boyatzis, et al, 2002).
So how do we develop a deeper awareness of ourselves?  Under normal circumstances it’s difficult because our subconscious, our ego(s), protect us from anything that may challenge our sense of identity.  Change rarely comes from hearing harsh feedback from our boss, it rarely comes from being passed over for promotion.  To create lasting change, awareness needs to come from within ourselves and developing such an awareness (and being able to take on feedback) is half the battle to becoming a truly great leader.

Therefore, every leadership development programme must involve a heavy component of creating self-awareness in the individual before any lasting change can occur.

Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership ~ Woodrow Wilson


Knowing what you know now!  Does your leadership development plan include improving on the critical areas of leadership such as self-awareness?  Are leadership competencies part of your (and your team’s) performance measurements?  What do these look like?

Knowing what you know now!  How do take on feedback?  Do you recognise the different types of feedback you are receiving?  Some are more subtle than others…  Are you aware of your values and do these align with your organisation?

If you’d like to know more about how to achieve more in life or business, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.

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