3 Smart Tips to Assess Your Skills as a Leader

3 Smart Tips to Assess Your Skills as a Leader
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Do You Need to Assess Your Skills as a Leader?
As a business leader, beware of the ivory tower syndrome. The metaphorical ivory tower is anywhere you isolate yourself — from your employees, from your stakeholders, and even from an honest way to assess your skills as a leader.

How Well Are You Leading?
If you don’t check periodically with others as to how they experience you as a leader, how do you know if you are helping them to perform at their peak? Face it, when it comes to leading others, there are always areas in which to improve. Climb down from your tower and be humble and vulnerable enough to uncover leadership areas that need repair and refinement.

First, make sure you fully understand the expectations and scope of your role and responsibilities as a new leader. If you are new to leadership, there is a temptation to continue to do what you did so well as an individual contributor that helped you to get promoted to manager. For example, we know from people manager assessment data that successful people leaders excel at:

  • Managing Priorities
    Identifying which tasks are the most important and allocating appropriate time to accomplish them in a way that makes sense
  • Planning and Organizing Work
    Determining the needed resources to accomplish work and creating clear plans about who will do what by when

There are, of course, leadership simulation assessments and leadership 360’s that can help pinpoint key areas for leadership development. Take advantage of these whenever possible to test your leadership abilities and help you toward higher performance.

3 Recommendations For Getting Leadership Feedback
There is also a free source for your leadership review — your colleagues. As a leader, you should have thick enough skin to invite and welcome honest employee feedback to ensure that you know your strengths and weaknesses. If you do not have an accurate and conscious understanding of your leadership abilities, behaviors, and motives, here are three recommendations for how to request feedback and how to receive it:

  1. Ask Open-ended Questions
    Leaders who ask open-ended questions to their team are perceived as more open, inclusive, and encouraging than leaders who use close-ended questions. Why? Because open-ended questions prompt people to feel like part of the solution and to think about more insightful answers.

    While close-ended questions can be an effective situational leadership approach to lead someone “to the right answer” in times of urgency or when they lack the motivation or capability, close-ended questions tend to limit ownership, buy-in, and innovation.

    Effective open-ended questions allow leaders to get to know their team, understand what matters most to them, remove barriers to success, and to solve problems. Just make sure that there are no negative repercussions for “wrong answers” or negative feedback.
  2. Actively Listen
    We supposedly only retain 5-10% of what we hear. After you ask an open-ended question, listen carefully to the responses, observe body language, and seek to understand their desires, feelings, and motivations. Listen for what they are “fully saying.”

    Don’t guess where the conversation is going and don’t interrupt. Done well, leaders who employ active listening hear and understand “the complete message being communicated” about their ability to lead.
  3. Respond Appropriately
    Not only must leaders ensure that the people’s feedback is fully heard, but they must do something with it. Playback what you have heard, make sure you are both on the same page, and then commit to doing something meaningful and possible about it.

    We know from our organizational culture assessment data that employees who perceive that their leaders follow up on their feedback are 12 times more likely to report increased levels of employee engagement. Be candid, open, and honest in what you will do with their feedback.

The Bottom Line
If you think you need to assess your skills as a leader, invest the time and effort to understand how you are perceived by those around you, Then do what it takes to play to your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, and thank those around you for the gift of feedback.

To learn more about how to become a better leader, download 6 Top Traps That Can Sabotage Success as a Leader


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