What has shaped you as a leader? Is it an experience, person or situation?

shaped as a leaderThrough my executive coaching I have found a lot of leaders found answering this question rewarding. It’s an opportunity to self-reflect on what has gotten us to where we are today and it helps us understand what motivates and drives us as leaders based on key turning points in our lives. It also helps identify what kind of leader you are today or ultimately the type of leader you aspire to be.

I have a client who as a young child was training for the Olympics. She was extremely competitive and learned at a young age the importance of setting goals and achieving them. She also learned about the dynamics of working as part of a team and winning for the team. And finally, she learned how to bounce back from disappointment when she was injured and determined continuing on was not practical. When we talked about her leadership, we uncovered threads of each of these qualities in her current leadership style.

We reviewed these qualities and came up with the following list.

Goal driven – I set my sights on what I want to achieve
Planful – I set out a plan to achieve these goals
Determined and unwavering – I am resolute in reaching my goal, often times having to make sacrifices to stay on course
Overcomes setbacks – I’m able to handle obstacles even in the face of adversity
Competitive – I like to win for myself and the team

My client summed things up this way; “this is exactly who I am as a leader but I wonder if there are opportunities for me to continue to grow and hone these skills.” She gained great clarity from this exercise and wanted to leverage these insights for continued leadership growth.

With this in mind, we needed to determine what was most effective and what was least effective about her leadership style. She accomplished this by asking her team, coworkers and management for feedback on these qualities. This was a simple exercise where she sent an email asking for honest feedback on her leadership style, sharing the above list of qualities and traits. She followed up with in-person meetings to discuss the feedback she received.

What she found out was eye-opening. While her higher-level management applauded her competitive nature, she realized her coworkers looked at this very differently. They questioned her motives as a more myopic view of what winning would mean for her, not the whole team. This was a big surprise for my client who placed great value on teamwork. We determined her competitive nature was signaling a different message than teamwork and working more closely with the team was needed. Armed with this insight she is now bringing her coworkers in earlier on projects she is working on, communicating more about why she is recommending a particular direction and being more open to contrarian views and ensuring her coworkers gain visibility for their efforts so everyone benefits from the success of the project.

What has shaped you as a leader? What experience, person or situation has made you the kind of leader you are today? Please share your…

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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