Monday, March 12, 2007

How do I become an effective leader?

Q. I have just been told, i am not an effective leader. I'm quiet, withdrawn, and am more of a follower than anything. However, part of my job is to "lead" others, and show leadership style characteristics, regardless of my "persona."
I am having a HUGE issue with this, becuase my annual review is based on "leadership" style issues. I have struggled to understand this for as long as I can remember. As far as i feel, i am a great leader, but ALL of my supervision does not see this as so.
Something just ISN'T clicking with this whole "leadership" thing. I have tried everything i know of to improve, but the light just isn't turning on. Any ideas?

A. Yes, here's an idea!

Supervisors can only see the externals, the results of leadership e.g. if people work well with you. What they focus on is no help for you.

The reason is that our behavior is the result of our internal thoughts and emotions. We can only be comfortable with others if we are first comfortable with ourselves. We have to be able to lead ourselves before we can lead others.

You are a follower by default. Although you know you have ideas that would be useful to others, your way of expressing yourself expresses your own uncertainties. You are hesitant in coming forward because you don't trust yourself and others feel that.

Personally I don't believe that anyone is condemned to be a perpetual follower. Everyone who survives into adulthood has, in some aspect of their lives, shown leadership that has been appreciated. Your challenges are to rediscover that spark and better manage your thoughts and emotions.

During or as a result of your performance appraisal, you might consider expressing to your supervisor all that you have said in your question and ask him to sponsor you for some coaching. If you don't want to ask him, get some anyway.

It was an act of leadership to ask this question.


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