Lessons In Leadership: What Great Leaders Do

One of the biggest differences among the generations of leaders is the desire for ongoing leadership development and frequent feedback. The new generation of leaders has continuous feedback through technology, collaboration, and parenting, and expect this to continue on the job. The most successful leaders across the generations have learned something very skillful they deploy just about every day. They understand that increasing their self-awareness is essential to meeting their stakeholders’ expectations and improving their leadership performance. When leaders fail, a key contributing factor is often a lack of self-awareness, or the misunderstanding and acceptance of how they are perceived by their stakeholders.

There are four valuable lessons we have learned from working with hundreds of successful and some unsuccessful leaders over the years. By following these four easy steps you will be on your way to achieving higher levels of leadership development and leadership performance.

1. GREAT LEADERS SEEK TO IDENTIFY THEIR BLINDSPOTS OR LEADERSHIP QUALITIES THEY ARE UNDERPERFORMING AND MAY BE UNAWARE OF THIS PERCEPTION BY THEIR KEY STAKEHOLDERS.

Blindspots are very difficult to improve when the leader rates him/herself much higher than their stakeholders evaluations. Robert Hogan identified 11 potential derailers when leaders are particularly stressed often referred to as over-used strengths. For example, derailers we often encounter are leaders being highly Diligent. So, when these leaders have their results on the line, they take control and do things themselves. The problem is that over time their teams do not feel empowered and are not being developed toward their own goals. A leader can quickly be perceived as a “micromanager,” and have severe morale, productivity, and retention challenges. Our assessments identify a leader’s blindspots.

2. GREAT LEADERS RECOGNIZE THAT PERCEPTION IS REALITY.

How others see them is what really matters the most, so that they better understand their stakeholders’ expectations and how their leadership is effecting followers. Even though this reality is sometimes harsh, unkind, and difficult to accept, great leaders have learned to confront their own reality. How we help leaders understand their perceptions is with thorough leadership assessments, including personality assessments and 360 degree feedback. Using this approach the leader can better understand how they are perceived by their stakeholder groups (i.e., direct reports, peers, manager, etc.). We have had various degrees of reactions to the 360 degree feedback ranging from elation to shock. In most cases, “no news is not always good news!” Often times the leader’s boss, peers, or direct reports provide some very telling feedback that indicate blindspots for intensive leadership coaching and development.

3. GREAT LEADERS DON’T WAIT FOR FEEDBACK SINCE MOST PEOPLE WILL HELP WHEN ASKED. 

We advise our clients to create a network of supporters – that are representative of their stakeholder groups and that periodically provide direct feedback and suggestions for improvements. This is particularly helpful in CEO growth and development since very few people have the platform to provide unsolicited upward feedback!

4. GREAT LEADERS DON’T WAIT TO BE TRAINED TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK, SO ANYONE CAN DO THIS IMMEDIATELY.

Pick an area that you want to improve and be as specific as possible, and ask for feedback and suggestions for the future. Thank the feedback provider for giving you this gift.

Be sure to start your development network by seeking leadership feedback today. It’s a great and cost-effective method for improving leadership development skills and leadership effectiveness.