What is self-leadership?
So what do we really mean when we talk about self-leadership? In simple terms, self-leadership is about developing my personal effectiveness, to allow me to perform at my best and ultimately lead others more effectively.
To achieve greater personal efficacy, a leader needs to have a clear vision of what he or she wants to achieve and a clear understanding of what drives their behaviour if they are to achieve this. This includes understanding ones personal values, motivators and personality preferences.
Before considering these drivers, you may want to reflect on the footprint you currently make as a leader, and the footprint you want to leave in future.
One way to do this is to imagine it is your last ever day at work. What do you want to have achieved? What would you want your boss, people and customers (internal and external) to be saying about you? How do you want to have made people feel? What would you hope they would say when asked to describe your personal values?
A simple exercise like this helps leaders build a clear, compelling picture of the impact they want to have going forward and, as a result, allows them to take actions that will make this picture become reality. The next Challenge is how can I ensure this footprint is actually created?
Personality preferences - be yourself
Rather than trying to fundamentally change themselves, London Business School entreats delegates on their leadership programmes to adopt the mindset of: Be yourself, but with more skill. To do this, leaders need to both understand themselves and then translate this understanding into action that will allow them to be more effective.
An excellent way of gaining greater insight into ones underlying personal preferences is by completing a personality questionnaire and exploring your responses in relation to the footprint you want to create as a leader.
Understanding your personal preferences gives you the opportunity to consider how these help shape your behaviour and as such the impact you are having as a leader on your people.
Leadership and management style
Most good quality personality questionnaires will provide you with a feel for your preferred leadership and management style. Transactional (management) and transformational (leadership) styles are one of the more frequently used frameworks.
A transactional preference is likely to result in a focus on managing more immediate performance issues, ensuring clear goals and priorities are in place and rewarding delivery against these goals. Transactional leaders prefer dealing with what needs to be done and by when, i.e. the task at hand and managing processes and systems to ensure success. When done well, a transactional preference will help stretch an organisations performance capability by delivering increased organisational efficiency.
If this is your preference, and you have the requisite skills to execute it, you are most likely to add value in an environment where there is a high degree of control and a need for adherence to defined structures and processes, a need for problem solving and delivering within the existing status quo.
A transformational preference is likely to result in a focus on engaging people in a long-term vision, building confidence and belief that this vision can be achieved and empowering others to take ownership of and to deliver that vision. Transformational leaders will tend to focus on building relationships, focusing on the why (i.e. alignment to the organisations vision) and how (i.e. enabling others to execute effectively) aspects of performance to drive belief and confidence.
Such an approach is most likely to add value in environments where change is required or is already the norm, and where operating within uncertainty and a high degree of risk is needed if goals are to be achieved.
If you have the necessary capability in this area, your preferences are likely to help increase an organisations performance by fundamentally changing aspects of how it operates and potentially even what it does, i.e. delivering increased organisational effectiveness.
An equally important, though somewhat less considered, aspect of personality preferences is how a leaders preferences impact his/her execution focus. Their preferences (i.e. people, strategic, operational or tactical) are likely to influence how they prioritise different information and factors within their decision making and how they allocate time, resources and energy within their performance environment.
By understanding your execution preferences, you can gain greater understanding into the type of performance environment you are creating for your people. A leader with a people focus is likely to place an emphasis on inspiring and winning the hearts and minds of their people, whereas a strategic preference is likely to mean a leader will focus on the future vision and direction of the business. A leader with an operational preference will tend to focus on translating strategic objectives into a series of operational plans, while a tactical focus is likely to see an emphasis on day-to-day performance and executing tangible objectives.
So how can I find out more about myself?Normally, there is a cost associated with completing a personality questionnaire that provides such a level of insight into your personality preferences and associated leadership and management style. However the FindingPotential Personality Questionnaire, which generates a detailed personal report as well as a separate leadership and management styles report, is available entirely free of charge*.
In addition, a range of supporting workbooks** have been created to help you get the most out of using the tool and take action to enable you to be more effective and be yourself, but with more skill.
Free online personality test
* To access the free online personality questionnaire, click here
(link to: http:// www.findingpotential.com)
**To use the free supporting workbooks, click here
(link to: http://www.findingpotential.com/INDIVIDUALS/DEVELOPMENT/)
Or to find out whether your leadership style is akin to Richard Branson or Alan Sugar, take this personality test: