Organizations are starving for leadership at every level. Downsizing, organizational flattening and the shift from a command and control leadership approach to a more collaborative, coaching approach have all contributed to the serious lack of leadership seen in most organizations today. It doesn’t matter whether you are an individual contributor, a leader of others or a leader of leaders; I’m willing to bet that your organization would encourage you to take on more of a leadership role in your day to day activities. There is no greater impact on the level of employee engagement within an organization than the relationship an employee has with their direct supervisor. With that in mind I’ve co-authored a series of articles with Tony Scutella of Shifting Mindsets that are designed to help you create your own leadership development plan, which we're going to share with you over the coming weeks.

Noted industrial psychologist Jack H. McQuaig, creator of the behavioral assessment called the McQuaig Self-Development Survey, is quoted as saying that “self-awareness is the foundation for achieving higher levels of performance. Highly successful people are not necessarily blessed with a higher intellect or more charisma than others, but they do know how to make the best use of their talents and how to avoid the pitfalls that could limit their success.” Self-insight, when guided by our natural instincts, helps us to see consequences of our actions ahead of time. You actually build other skills while developing self-insight, such as the ability to stay focused. In addition, you improve your ability to prepare and make better decisions. Self-insight is a skill that provides you the ability to work through professional growth, improve the knowledge, skills and abilities you bring to the job, and enables you to take on increasing leadership roles.

Success in life requires that we continue learning. That’s what’s going to help you stay well ahead of the curve in today’s hyper competitive economy. To do so, it is essential that we turn inward to see what is necessary for us to advance toward that new age world. We know that leadership can be learned. While some people are certainly born with leadership skills, it’s not a prerequisite for becoming a leader. It is far more important that you are dedicated to the art of leadership. It's that dedication that will engender employee engagement.

Leadership involves understanding how to inspire, influence and shape how people behave. According to Peter Drucker, your first role as a leader is a personal one. “It is the relationship with people, the development of mutual confidence, the identification of people, and the creation of a community. This is something only you can do.” Drucker put it this way: “It cannot be measured or easily defined. But it is not only a key function. It is one only you can perform.” Your leadership style will be dictated by who you are behaviorally. As Jack McQuaig would point out, we all have strengths but successful people have figured out how to minimize the impact of their limitations. In doing so they are able to better leverage what comes naturally by ensuring others are able to focus on the positive elements of the relationship.

Some of the most influential organizational leaders that Tony and I have met don’t have a title that would suggest they are in a leadership role. They coach and mentor others even though they don’t have the responsibility to do that. They genuinely want to see others succeed and so they set about helping them to do just that. Influence knows no boundaries. It’s not position power. Thankfully, those days are behind us. They are successful informal leaders in their organizations because of how they are perceived by others. They know their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses and as a result have the power that comes with leadership even though they don’t hold a position of power or formal authority.

So how do you know what your strengths are and what your limitations might be? I have attached a sample of the McQuaig Self-Development behavioral assessment that you can download. If you haven’t completed some form of behavioral assessment within the last 3 to 5 years you owe it to yourself to do that if you’re currently in a leadership role or thinking about becoming a leader. How would you know what to work on if you’ve never measured what you bring to the organization? I have also attached a working copy of our Leadership Self-Assessment for you to complete. It’s built using a straightforward leadership competency model and should therefore form the foundation of your leadership development plan or become part of your corporate leadership development program.

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    I'd like to discuss creating my own leadership development plan



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