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Improve Your Leadership Style

Posted January 3rd, 2013 by bbsadmin & filed under General Business.

1. Improve your problem solving skills

Many years ago there was a problem at the Jefferson Memorial Monument. The birds were making a mess of the monument with their droppings and the cleaning products used to clean the monument were adversely affecting the monument. National Parks managers had to do something to solve the problem. They started by asking why some many birds were spending their time there. They found it was because there were spiders all over the monument. They then asked why there were so many spiders. They found that there was an abundance of insects nesting there which attracted the spiders. They then asked why the insects were nesting there. The insects were there because of the way the monument was lit up. The way the problem ended up being solved was by turning on the lights to the monument only after dark (The Heart of Innovation). As a leader you are involved in solving problems constantly. There are many ways to improve your problem solving skills. Perhaps the most elementary skill of problem solving is defining the problem itself. Next time you are faced with a problem remember the Jefferson Memorial Monument and try to dig a little deeper to find the real reason why instead of assuming.

2. A vision of where you are and where you are going

Vision is a leadership skill which is indispensable. A leader must have a vision of where the team should be going and should transfer that vision by seeing and understanding how to apply the skill sets of the team he leads to reach that vision. The vision of where you are includes an understanding of the resources you have, an understanding of the customers, and an understanding of the market trends. A vision of where you are going is the utilization of the vision of where you are, what the customers want and need, as well as the trends and finding opportunities based on these factors.

3. Emotional intelligence

Daniel Goldman wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review about emotional intelligence. It was based on the research of about 200 companies. He found that emotional intelligence is “tie[d]” to “measurable business results.” He outlines five qualities of emotional intelligence business leaders should possess. These include: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills (Goleman). This makes sense. People are not robots. They are unique individuals with different motives, emotions and backgrounds. Leaders not only need be able to figure out where the team is, where it needs to go, and what skills will take it there; leaders must also be able to control their own emotions as well as understand the emotions of others and be able to communicate their vision effectively to their team.

4. Introspection

I once spoke to a man who participates in recreational road cycling. He told me about riding his bike down a steep canyon road. The advice he gave was how to maneuver yourself when biking. He said that he has been in situations where he was coming down a mountain at high speeds when the road turns sharply. He said that you need to be aware of the cliff you are headed straight for, but if you focus on it too much you are not going to be able to make the turn and you’ll go off the cliff. Your focus should be on the ways you are going to avoid the cliff. This applies to improving leadership style using introspection. As a leader, you should be aware of where you stand. You should recognize the positives and negatives. You need to be aware of the cliff (negative traits as a leader) but you need to focus on the path (ways to improve). I suggest taking 5 minutes every day at the end of the day and write down two or three of the positive qualities you demonstrated (be specific) and two or three things you can do better tomorrow. Take a look at the past and see how you have progressed.

5. Learn as you lead and lead as you learn every day

In his book The Complete 101 Collection, John C. Maxwell talks about how he wanted to learn from top leaders in his field. He contacted them and would plan vacations around meeting those leaders who allowed him to visit with them (Maxwell). Maxwell understood that title does not entitle. Leaders can progress and and digress. True leaders learn before, during, and after leadership positions. Leadership is learned daily. If you are not actively learning leadership on a daily basis, through study and mental digestion of experience, you are not becoming the leader you can become.

6. Focus on the 20%

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? Vilfred Partero came up with this principle which is that 20% percent of what we put in produces 80% of the results (Investopedia). This is a reminder that not all activities are of equal importance. As a leader it is your job to figure out what the 20% is that fuels the 80% of your results and focus on those activities.

7. There is no cookie cutter for leadership

There is no cookie cutter for leadership. What I mean by this is that there is no one leadership style that should be used all the time. If this were the case leadership classes, colleges and publications would be focusing on getting rid of other leadership styles and focusing on one specific leadership style. Though you may be born with a predominant leadership style, you should remember to be adaptable according to circumstance. There are times when you need to seek input, times when you need to delegate and times when you just need to take hold of the reins and act quick.

Works Cited

Goleman, Daniel. Harvard Business Review. 2004. http://hbr.org/2004/01/what-makes-a-leader/ar/1. 2013 January 2012.

Investopedia. Pareto Principle. n.d. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/paretoprinciple.asp#axzz2H9FayI00. 5 January 2013.

Maxwell, John C. “How Can I Grow As a Leader.” Maxwell, John C. The Complete 101 Collection. Nashville Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2009. 234. Book.

The Heart of Innovation. Why you need to ask why. 5 May 2011. http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/archives/2011/05/some_years_ago.shtml. 3 January 2013.