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How to Further Develop Your Leadership Strengths

Though my interactions with leaders recently it is clear that a key aspect that what effective leaders have in common is that they strongly believe themselves to be leaders. They also have clarity around knowledge and skills that they bring to leadership and how to use them. They have the courage of their convictions around this if you like.

I believe that effective leadership can be learned, that everyone has the capacity to be a leader and that leaders are in all contexts. If you are reading this it is likely that you are one.

So what does leadership look like and how do we know when we are doing it? How do we know we have the knowledge, skills and attributes?

I have read lots of books, blogs and articles about leadership and I recently read some of what Napoleon Hill wrote about it in 1928 in his Laws of Success. It seems that while the use of language has changed a bit, not much has changed in terms of the perception of effective leadership, the nuts and bolts of it. Today we look at Richard Branson and Steve Jobs as leadership role models. Napoleon Hill was inspired by Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.

This is my interpretation of what Napoleon Hill had to say:

On people:

• The importance of building relationships

• Serve and be of value to others

• Engage others

• Work with people rather than ‘do to’

• Model leadership qualities and guide others

On Emotional Intelligence which didn’t exist then. Napoleon Hill called it “Know your men, know your business, know yourself!”

• Self-belief (in self as a leader)

• Initiative

• Self-management

• Self help

• Care and consideration

• Tolerance

• Persistence

• Courage / strength

• Judgement and opinion

• Seek to understand people

• Fairness

• Dignity

On vision and planning:

• Know where you are going

• Know your purpose – or your ‘why’

• Plan strategically

• Have passion and engagement

• If something isn’t working try something else

On knowledge and skills

• Effective decision making

• Imagination & Innovation

• Function in both big picture & detail

Whilst this doesn’t capture all that is out there in leadership or EQ land today, I think it provides an interesting snapshot of leadership and we can use it to begin to see where we sit as leaders and what we might need to develop through answering the following questions:

1. Think of a situation in which you are a leader, at work, at home, within the family, in sport.

2. Now go through each of the points above and describe to yourself how you meet them – what your strengths are. It may help to speak it out loud or write in down.

3. Think of someone close to you … a partner, sibling, child, friend. Now ask yourself how would they describe you for each of the points above?

4. Once you have done that, choose a couple of areas that you would like to develop further.

5. Now choose a couple of areas in which you are very strong… How can you use these strengths to build the areas you have identified for development? For example if you are very strong in care and consideration for others and would like to increase your strength in self-belief – how can you use the resources you have in being caring and considerate of others to do that?

I would love to know how you benefited from this exercise and also what else you find useful on this blog. Please post a reply here or email me directly with your feedback

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