Building Strong Leadership Skills

by Michael T. Bauer, MSW

Developing the leadership skills to be successful at work and in life takes time and lots of effort.  Our lives are so busy with family, children, friends, our hobbies...that we often don't take the time to assess our leadership skills.  We don't take the time to evaluate what we are good at and what we need improvement on.  We don't take time to develop a "action plan" to help us set new goals and to achieve them.  AND, we don't find a "change partner" who can encourage us, support us, and challenge us to reach new goals.  

We often say that we are too busy - and we are often times very busy - but that is just a good excuse to avoid looking at updating our leadership skills.  It is always easier to stay in a comfort zone than it is to make changes.  We've heard the saying "move outside the box," but we never really develop a clear understanding of what that box represents.  There are many positive and beneficial skills within the comfort of the box, and yet we still need to challenge ourselves by stepping outside of the box.  So, what does the box represent for you.

When I coach executives and managers, I am looking for new ways to challenge them.  I want the candidate to take on new roles at work, try them "on," experience them, and the come back and review the results with me.  I ask them to find a "change partner" who can be an active, supportive person in helping them add new skills.  I have them develop a "blueprint" that describes the goals for the next few months.  In addition, I become the ultimate cheerleader...cheering on every success.

New managers, veteran supervisors, and senior executives all benefit from the coaching because it challenges them to look at their beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors in a new way.  It encourages change from the inside to the outside.  That type of change lasts a long time.

This leads me to an interesting story.   I've been watching my son mature over the past two years and there is never a dull moment.  One of the ways he continues to challenge himself is through the Boy Scouts of America.  He and I recently went on a canoe trip into the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.   He had many roles during the trip such as navigator, cook, dishwasher, but most important was his role as a team member.  

There was a crew leader, assistant leader, food coordinator, and an equipment coordinator.  In addition, every day a different teen took over as navigator.  The adults were there to monitor, assist, encourage, support, and to be the ultimate cheerleaders for these young men.  In the middle of the wilderness, with compass and map, this crew of nine learn to work together, to trust one another, and to work toward a common goal.  And I was excited to see these boys (and adults) challenge themselves to find new resources within themselves.  

Take ten minutes today and start thinking about what you need to work on to be a better leader at home and at work.  Let me know how it works out.

Copyright 2005 Michael T. Bauer  All Rights Reserved

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Interested in building your leadership skills? Contact me today and we can develop a plan to help you reach new goals.