Mastery and an appreciation of the importance of personal effectiveness are both fundamental to being a successful manager and leader working in and across complex ever-changing environments, where situations are often far from clear and there is no right answer to the problems and dilemmas that are posed. Leaders and managers do not work in isolation, and how you behave and react in given situations can be essential to the outcome and to the relationships with others at all levels of and across organisations. Equally important is the sense of personal well-being when individuals are working effectively and both they and others recognise and value their unique skills.
This chapter aims to give an overview of personal effectiveness and has chosen to focus upon self-awareness, self-management, working successfully with others and becoming a reflective practitioner as complementary themes in this essential development arena. In recognition that leaders need to develop real skills, together with an appreciation of why they need that skill base, this chapter aims to draw upon literature that is academic and evidence based, together with hints and tips for practical application in the real world.
Some of the areas covered in this chapter may perhaps be perceived as ' soft skills' but that belies their importance, and such an attitude is perhaps rooted in somewhat dated thinking about learning that tends to appreciate and reward more traditional and didactic methods of teaching over experiential techniques, where people discover for themselves – a theme to which this chapter will return.
Learning about ourselves is not always comfortable, for in fact the most powerful learning experiences are often very uncomfortable because they challenge individuals to think and sometimes act outside their comfort zones. Looking at oneself encourages an individual to be honest, sometimes about areas they do not like and may find hard to acknowledge and face up to. Fundamental to being honest with ourselves is the need to develop an enhanced understanding and appreciation of who we