Leadership has been and will always be a major topic of discussion in every field. Companies rise and fall based on their leadership. I know you heard the phrase people leave managers and leaders, not the company. Employees can be heard from miles away grumbling about their boss being incompetent. How does this happen? How are people placed in leadership roles, but viewed by many as incompetent? I think the better question is, “Is the incompetence based on the lack of leadership skill or technical skill?” I have often found that employees master their craft and as a result people in leadership reward them by promoting them into leadership roles. The problem with this move is that this is often done without considering if the employee has basic leadership abilities. Needless to say, it would behoove leadership to evaluate the leadership abilities of the employee before promoting them. This leads to the question of “Are leaders born or developed?”
Once you answer the question are leaders born or developed, the next vital question is how do you identify which skills are necessary to become a successful leader? This question sounds simple enough? Well the answer might not be easily answered if you view leadership as dynamic. Of course, we can all rattle off a list of characteristics that a successful leader should possess, but I challenge you to think beyond a list of characteristics. The reality of leadership is that it is interpersonal in nature, so having a list of characteristics that you possess, does not matter if you do not possess fundamental interpersonal skills. Remember we are talking about SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP. So I ask again, what skills are necessary to become a successful leader?
We need to be able to answer the previous question, because endless resources, such as time and money, are poured into employees in a reactive and proactive manner to develop and hone leadership skills. We need to get it right. So if the rudimentary leadership skills are present how do we continue to develop our leadership skills? Remember I am of the belief that leadership is dynamic; leadership skills are never perfected. People are involved in leadership, and people are the epitome of dynamic, so leadership skills must be reflective of that dynamic nature.
Here are some tips:
- Be self-reflective, and take an informal self-inventory about your leadership skills. How well are you executing those leadership skills you identified that were important to be a successful leader?
- Ask your employees for feedback about your leadership. Hold on tight, you might receive some feedback that you were not prepared to receive, albeit very helpful.
- Solicit feedback from a mentor or colleague about your leadership skills.
- Ask for specific details; ask them to relate feedback to specific projects/scenarios so you have context for comments. Hopefully, you will gain valuable insight and can make adjustments as necessary.
Major takeaway: Once you arrive in the leadership seat it is not time to put the car on cruise control and enjoy the scenery. Now is the time to put in even more work because you are responsible for developing yourself and the people you lead.
About the author:
Darsha D. Clark, LPC is currently an EAP consultant and trainer for All Points EAP (an AllOne Health Company) in Virginia. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has over 20 years of experience providing mental health support in a variety of settings. She has provided her expertise in settings, such as human services, hospitals, private practice, schools, and the legal system. Darsha enjoys assessment, crisis stabilization, treatment planning, coaching, and organizational development.