Developing Leadership Skills

Article excerpt

Conduct a true self-analysis of needed leadership skills.

Athletes have long recognized the value of practice to hone their skills. Through diligence and hard work, they prepare themselves by over learning the basics. In a game situation, their success is often referred to as instinct when making a spectacular catch or shot. In truth, instinct is nothing more than repetitive exercises performed successfully until it becomes both mental and muscle memory. Instinct allows the athlete to execute flawlessly when that skill set is needed.

Why not approach leadership the same way? Once lead- ership traits are identified that are essential, the goal is to establish a systematic methodology to over learn the desired skill until it becomes locked in our mental arsenal. This ap- proach allows us to transform our leadership skills into ac- tion without conscious thought, and the results will dictate success for the team environment. The secret is to identify the needed skill or trait.

To begin the journey to acquire leadership skills, a detailed self-analysis must be conducted. This is the difficult part on the path to leadership excellence. We often are not viewed the way we desire to be seen and we must be cognizant of this if we are to evolve as leaders. A self-analysis is crucial to implement a practice plan for leadership success. Just like the athlete who identifies where he / she needs improvement, a leader must do the same thing.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The obstacle to a clear self-analysis is pride. Pride can blind leaders as to where their true strengths and talents lie and where they need to improve. Pride has been called the Gateway Sin be- cause it opens the door for all other bad vices. A recent poll of traits needed for leadership revealed humility was at the top of most lists. Humility is the opposite of pride and al- lows us to recognize where we need improvement.

To conduct a true self-analysis of needed leadership skills, ex- cessive pride must be removed. The most respected leaders I ever worked for recognized they were not right all the time and they knew they did not have all the ideas. As one Commander on LAPD told me, "I know what skills I have and the ones I need to work on. …