I hear from clients all the time: I want to be a better leader. So the question is, what makes us a better leader? As we always say great leaders aren’t born, they’re made. Whether you’re just getting started on your leadership journey or you’re a seasoned pro take a moment to evaluate where you are at by going through the following set of steps:

1: Ask Yourself: What Makes a Great Leader?

If you said to me I want to be successful, I would immediately say to you, what does success mean to you? As the definition of success is different from person to person. It’s pretty much the same with leadership. It’s very subjective what the term great leader means. The first thing I like to challenge my clients to do is to reflect on what it means to be a great leader. Get out a piece of paper and pen and just start writing stuff down. These might be leadership traits you admire in others, you love about yourself, you’ve been given feedback about, others have demonstrated or even you read about in an article. 

If you are feeling stuck, start with some core leadership attributes and then see if you can add deeper skills based on those attributes. For example, you may start with communication then brainstorm all the communication related skills a great leader may have. This could be things like empathy, active listening, effective writer, public speaker, silence, question asker, etc.

2: Take an Assessment

There are a number of online assessment tools you can capitalize on. This could be a free simple leadership assessment that tells you your preferred style, or a deeper analysis. At Ama La Vida we conduct a couple specific assessments that really add value to our leaders discovering what they need to focus on.  

Intro Self assessment:

We have a couple versions of this but each take about 10 minutes to complete. It’s a number of questions that have you analyzing where you need to develop skills and documenting areas you want to grow in. The reason we love this assessment is it asks key questions to pull information from you in a way you wouldn’t think to ask yourself. It gives us a great starting point to a coaching engagement. Its something we can go back to later to review progress and discuss a client’s growth with them.

Leadership 360:

Most likely, you’ve been a part of a 360 in the past. You may have been the person giving or receiving the feedback, but likely you’re familiar. A leadership 360 is intended to poll the 360 degree view of those around you. It involves asking your manager, peers, suppliers, customers, clients and employees for feedback.  

We group our feedback into five key areas:
  • Approachable, creates a safe space, makes other feel heard
  • Effectively helps team overcome obstacles and empowers
  • Provides clear and consistent feedback
  • Self-awareness
  • Team-awareness and utilization

Upon completion of the survey we collect all of the feedback, analyze it, synthesize it and generate an anonymous report for the leader. This report is confidential and customized just for you. We spend at least one full coaching session reviewing the leadership 360. This is a great way to collect feedback, discover blindspots, set target growth areas and build your leadership development plan. Your coach will support you and help you see the value in the feedback and ensure you’re setting the right goals outside of the exercise. If you’d like to do a leadership 360 schedule time with me to discuss the process and finalize your enrollment. 

3: Develop a Plan & Get Support

Once you know what leadership skills you value and have seen from an assessment what you need to focus on, the next step is to create a plan. What gets planned gets done. What stays in your mind gets forgotten. It’s not enough to just know what skills you need to work on. You need to write down how you are going to work on them.  And to go a step further you need support. 

The value a coach brings to the achievement of your goals is almost immeasurable. Having an accountability partner will force you to document good goals, take action, review the actions, discuss what’s working and not, adjust and keep going. Without a coach it’s tough to do all those things.

One of the great values of coaching is that we work to create long lasting habits. It’s easy with skill development to do something once, and mark it off your list. But in reality it’s repeating the action over and over that creates a habit and forces change. 

A great example might be if my goal was around public speaking. If I set a goal to do more public speaking and I complete one event, I will be really proud, excited and mark it off my list. Because let’s face it, I did achieve the goal. But if I really want to develop the skill that means I need to do many public speaking events, and over a longer period of time. To go even deeper I may stack the goal with existing habits to ensure it becomes a habit. Additionally, I may leverage my coach for accountability and ongoing support. I may also tap into my coaches’ experiences working with other clients to discover other actions I can take to build this skill besides just public speaking events. I can tap into their expertise to find other ways to flex the muscle and build the habit.

So the next time you find yourself saying, I want to be a better leader carve out time to:
  1. Reflect on what it means to be a great leader
  2. Conduct an assessment to discover where you are
  3. Create a plan to implement the learnings

And of course, leverage your coach for support. 

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Jennifer Maynard

Jennifer's story is filled with stories and smiles. As she enters 20+ years of business she is happy to say she has enjoyed many career fields, companies, roles, and personal pivots. She is very excited to now be a part of the team at Ama La Vida as a Leadership Coach. Jen was born and raised in the Puget Sound area (Seattle, Wa). At age 30 she took her first life pivot and moved to Charleston, SC. In 2014 she had her first and only child, Grace. Since then, she has lived, traveled and worked all over the globe. You can read more about her story here.