Seeds of Leadership

With every leadership assessment event that I have attended and facilitated, about 500 to be exact, I have learned firsthand what defines and shapes great leaders. I have been a witness to the “ah-ha” moments when a leader comes to the realization that in order to transform the business, he/she must first transform themselves — both as an individual and as a leader.

As a recovering architectural engineer — with years of emotional scar tissue brought on by overexposure to toxic behaviors by those in leadership positions — I learned very early on in my career the delicate balance between tasks and relationships, and now I help other binary and linear thinkers do the same.

I have been fortunate to have built a great consulting career off those magical moments leveraging them to find creative ways to turnaround dysfunctional leaders and organizations by adhering to the following guiding principles*:

Great Leaders are passionate about what they do and with whom they engage. They actively seek ways to develop their employees to be leaders, especially in the midst of rapid change and uncertainty. They create an environment where bold moves and decisions are expected to move the business forward.

Great Leaders are energetic, focused and disciplined in their efforts to make a new strategy clear and how they gain alignment. They show the capacity to understand and balance the needs of the business, customers, suppliers, and employees. They encourage intellectual curiosity and continuous learning.

Great Leaders look for ways to engage in a healthy debate over the strategic direction of the business. They identify fragile performance areas that could be strengthened with a behavior-based approach. They understand the connection between behaviors, performance and business results.

Great Leaders effectively communicate their vision, take action and consistently demonstrate the character necessary to unify the organization. They know how to motivate others to achieve strategic goals. They are acutely aware of the shadow they cast and look for ways to model the desired behaviors they seek from others.

Great Leaders surround themselves with people who have diverse capabilities, and know how to unify them with a common purpose. They are constantly prospecting for gold – looking for ways to grow and sustain the business. They build teams using behavioral change principles to nurture the seeds of leadership.

If you were engaged in an interview for a leadership position and the question was asked — “Why do you want to be a leader?” What would be the answer? Is it simply the next step in a pre-determined career path? Is there pressure to make more money?

Is there a high need for power and control? Do you have a genuine interest in making other people successful or is your leadership quest for selfish reasons? Most importantly, what have you done to prepare yourself for a leadership position?

Leadership is a calling. Don’t get into it for the wrong reasons.  

 *Excerpts from: “Low Hanging Fruit and Highly Placed Vegetables”. Fehlman, Tom, 2011.

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