Developing Your Strengths through Self-Observation

December 8, 2010 - Mac Lake - Leadership, Personal Growth
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Leaders are typically hard on themselves.  We tend to look at our performance and immediately begin to ask ourselves what we did wrong.  We’re rarely satisfied and have high self-expectations.  This can be positive because it drives us toward constant improvement.  But it can also be negative because it can decrease our confidence or cause us to focus on improving things we’ll never be good at (which is a waste of our developmental energies).

So this week instead of focusing on what you’re doing wrong, give yourself a break and focus on what you’re doing right.  Effective self-development comes from assessing and improving your leadership strengths. We don’t think about practicing this because the things we do right come natural to us.  But when we take the time to understand our leadership strengths we can work to improve them and use them more often, which will result in increased impact.

So give this a try.

  • Reflect on a recent leadership moment in your life and ask yourself or someone else what you did right.
  • Write down a general description of that strength.  For example- I coached someone to better performance OR taught in a way that produced life-change OR cast a vision that moved people to action OR counseled in a way that brought spiritual comfort to someone in need.
  • Get as specific as possible and write down 4-5 distinct behaviors that make you good at that particular competency.  For example – I listened sincerely, I asked insightful questions, I easily identify options to someone’s problem, I gave clear and concise direction, I spoke words that motivated others, I organized thoughts in a clear and practical format.
  • Now, how can you repeat those behaviors in other leadership opportunities this week?  Look for specific meetings or responsibilities on your schedule this week and plan on finding ways to use those strengths over and over again.  As you do this you will notice patterns in your own behavior, you will gain insights that will help you get even better at those competencies and you will go to another level of proficiency that you never would have achieved without intentional self-assessment and processing.

My guess is if you try this you will not only improve your strengths but you will find more fulfillment and energy in your job as well

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Mac Lake

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