Building Strong Leadership Skills
by Michael T. Bauer, MSW
Developing the leadership skills to be successful at workand in life takes time and lots of effort. Our lives are so busy withfamily, children, friends, our hobbies...that we often don't take the time toassess our leadership skills. We don't take the time to evaluate what we are goodat 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, andchallenge 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 lookingat updating our leadership skills. It is always easier to stay in a comfort zone thanit is to make changes. We've heard the saying "move outside thebox," but we never really develop a clear understanding of what that boxrepresents. There are many positive and beneficial skills within thecomfort of the box, and yet we still need to challenge ourselves by steppingoutside of the box. So, what does the box represent for you.
When I coach executives and managers, I amlooking for new ways to challenge them. I want the candidate to take onnew roles at work, try them "on," experience them, and the come back and reviewthe results with me. I ask them to find a "change partner" whocan be an active, supportive person in helping them add new skills. I havethem develop a "blueprint" that describes the goals for the next fewmonths. In addition, I become the ultimate cheerleader...cheering on every success.
New managers, veteran supervisors, and senior executives all benefit from the coaching because itchallenges them to look at their beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors in a new way. Itencourages change from the inside to the outside. That type of changelasts a long time.
This leads me to an interestingstory. I've been watching my son mature over the pasttwo years and there is never a dull moment. One of the ways he continues to challenge himself is throughthe Boy Scouts of America. He and I recently went on a canoe trip into theBoundary Waters of Minnesota. He hadmany roles during the trip such as navigator, cook, dishwasher, but mostimportant was his role as a team member.
There was a crew leader,assistant leader, food coordinator, and an equipment coordinator. Inaddition, every day a different teen took over as navigator. Theadults were there to monitor, assist, encourage, support, and to be theultimate cheerleaders for these young men. In the middle of thewilderness, with compass and map, this crew of nine learn to work together, to trust oneanother, and to work toward a common goal. And I was excited to seethese boys (and adults) challenge themselves to find new resources withinthemselves.
Take ten minutes today and start thinking aboutwhat you need to work on to be a better leader at home and at work. Let meknow how it works out.
Copyright 2005 Michael T. Bauer All Rights Reserved
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