When asked, “what kind of leader are you?”, what do you say? Do you have an answer for, “what aren’t you as a leader?”? Your view of yourself as a leader is likely based on your past experiences, feedback that you received, and who you know yourself to be. You know that you can be counted on for certain things. You also can likely predict, with some degree of certainty, where you may struggle.

The question is: Does that give you power as a leader? Do those adjectives or traits that you may use to describe yourself as a leader provide a foundation on which to stand, or do they proverbially nail one of your feet to the floor leaving you stuck being or not being a certain way?

Traits do not Equal Results

While there are certain traits that are seen as common among successful executives, such as drive and resilience, effective at catalyzing others into action, and able to visualize the future to name a few, there is not one single path on the road to success. In some situations, a leader will get the intended results by taking a driving approach, and in other situations taking a step back and giving others the space to take the wheel may be more effective. For those who only know themselves as a driver, perhaps even a self-proclaimed ‘control freak’, the option to step back may not even be considered.

Start with the Outcome

This points to the need to first look at any situation with the intended outcome in mind and see what actions would drive to that outcome. In assessing the situation, it’s imperative to consider the players. Like you, they also know themselves to be a certain way.

Skillful leaders will understand the considerations and concerns of their team members. Who likes a direct approach? Who needs to think things through? Who is the person that is always looking out for the well-being of the team?

The successful leader can then communicate in a way that will resonate for each player on the team. By tailoring the message to suit the audience, it will allow for the true intention of the message to ring through, the appropriate actions to be taken, and the intended outcomes to be achieved. A leader who does not possess this mastery and has only one default mode of interthanon may find the journey to success more of a constant struggle than a series of well-orchestrated conversations.

By starting with the result then working backwards, changing your perspective and approach to a problem or initiative might just be what you need to get out of that box.

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