Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Now that you have the position

You now have the leadership position.  But do you have the skills?

As a leader, you have a formal leadership role.  But formal leadership roles demand a set of skills that you may not necessarily have.  People frequently are promoted because they were exemplary in their position.  However, this doesn't automatically translate into having the skills required in a leadership role.  As a leader, can you identify the necessary skill sets for your position?  When that's done, can you then identify which of these skill sets you have, which skill sets you don't have, and which ones you are developing?  Once this 'gap analysis' has been done, you have some important thinking to do about how you will build the skills that you need in your role.  In other words, what do you need to learn and how will you learn it?  Every great leader is also a great learner.  Leadership demands learning and continual refinement of the skills of leadership.  What is your plan to be a great leader? 

Here is a list of just some of the skill sets that great leaders have:

  • setting direction for the work of your staff
  • building purposeful, authentic relationships...and then sustaining them
  • knowing how to motivate people
  • knowing how to handle difficult conversations while maintaining the integrity of staff members
  • problem-solving
  • supporting each member of your staff in building their capacity to do the work
  • coaching and mentoring.....and knowing the difference
  • planning for succession and ensuring that there are always others who can carry on the work
  • being accountable
  • taking responsibility
  • identifying the focus of the work and supporting staff in keeping the focus
  • dealing with distracters so that they don't impact on your staff
  • distributing / sharing leadership with others
  • ...and the list goes on....

1 comment:

  1. Having now been in the role of VP for 3+ years, this posting really hits home. I recall walking in my first day, full of confidence and a positive mind-set. I was determined to engage everyone, and empower those staff members who required extra support. It was not long before, I was bogged down with the negativity, lack of moral, and closed-mindedness of many staff members.

    Begin a great leader requires all points listed above, but most importantly it means that we need to maintain our own integrity and authenticity. During my first year, I tried to be everyone but myself. By the end of the year, I was literally exhausted, and felt defeated. In my next year, I was fortunate enough to have a principal who took the time to coach me. Having a great coach and mentor can make a world of difference. He encouraged me to take the lead on many endeavours, but always insisted that I do it as myself. I learned not to make excuses for who I was, or what I was trying to do.

    As an administrator, we will not always be able to reach everyone right off the start. It takes time to develop relationships and trust. As a leader, I have made some mistakes. I have realized that it is when we are most vulnerable, that great learning takes place. Reflection is critical in this role! It offers an opportunity to make sense of the situation, and determine what tools are necessary for a more productive outcome the next time around. It also helps us to refine our own skills.