I suspect the title of this article piqued your curiosity about what insights might be revealed. But then, no doubt, the curiosity gave way to another question. Somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve wondered: “Which half is he talking about, the ‘strong’ half or the ‘weak’ half?” And then, after a moment of reflection, another question arose, “I wonder how I compare? Which half am I in?”
And therein lies the first interesting insight…
I never met an executive who felt they were a poor leader!
Most every leader will acknowledge that there is room for improvement, but none feels he or she is poor. Yet, we all know (or have known) some pretty poor leaders. The truth is that it’s difficult for us to determine whether we’re good at leading. It’s challenging for several reasons.
1) The first challenge is that quality of leadership is determined by those being led, rather than by the leader. How we view ourselves is fairly irrelevant. What matters more is how we’re viewed by others and only they can tell us whether we’re being effective.
2) The second challenge is that we often have a hard time accurately assessing our leadership competencies. Even when we feel we have a good read on how others regard us, we’re frequently too lenient or too hard on ourselves. We tend to overestimate our effectiveness or are overly self-critical. It’s very difficult to determine how others really view us until we get objective feedback.
3) The third challenge is that we all have “blind spots”. No matter how experienced we are, how intelligent we are, or how much education we’ve had, each of us has blind spots and no amount of thinking can reveal them. Almost always, it takes someone else to point them out to us.
The bottom line is that the only way to accurately determine which of our leadership competencies are strong and which require honing is to get anonymous feedback from a group of people who are familiar with us and our leadership style. That’s why 360° assessments are so effective and so necessary in accurately revealing a leader’s strengths and weaknesses.
Now that we’ve established that it’s difficult to determine how effective we are as a leader, let’s discuss how the other half leaders. While it’s true that there are poor leaders and strong leaders, there is no real dividing line. There are no “halves”.
The truth is that leadership competence is on a continuum. Very few people are devoid of the necessary competencies for leadership effectiveness. Instead, it’s a matter of degree and quality.
What makes a great leader? Exceptional leaders bring out the best in people. An effective leader helps people feel valued and develops them beyond their present capabilities. An effective leader shows respect for others, and works to earn trust and respect from others. And an effective leader inspires others with their vision, their actions, and their integrity.
Most executives understand these principles and feel they do a relatively good job implementing them. The challenge is that old habits are hard to see and even harder to break. Those executives who consistently work on improving become known as great leaders.