In the forward to Bill George’s book True North, David Gergen shares, “what ultimately distinguishes the great leaders from the mediocre are the personal, inner qualities – qualities that are hard to define but are essential for success, qualities that each of us must develop for ourselves.”
How can leaders develop these inner qualities that are essential to great leadership? There is not a clear-cut recipe, path, or leadership development program that will guarantee results to develop these qualities. However, much of the current leadership research and trends propose that the path begins with an examination of yourself and your inner qualities. Great leaders need to know themselves first before they can effectively lead others. Common character themes and traits stand out among great leaders and words such as authenticity, integrity and trustworthiness describe their character traits.
After much reading and reflection I have been inspired to examine myself, and have attempted to discover the inner qualities that help to define my own leadership development and to apply what I have learned.
Here are five go-to’s to assist those willing to go deep and discover their inner leadership self, and to then live their leadership.
Go-To #1: Discover and determine your values, intent, and goalposts. Communicate and demonstrate them consistently.
In the Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey states that “declaring your intent, and expressing your agenda and motives can be very powerful.. it signals your behaviour..it lets people know what to look for so that they can recognize, understand, and acknowledge it when they see it.”
Go-To #2: Assess and take stock of yourself and the organization you lead to enhance the leadership environment.
In his book ax*i*om, Bill Hybels shares, “ A key responsibility of the leader is to know what season the organization is in, to name it, and then to communicate the implications of that season to his or her followers.”
Go-To #3: Get ongoing feedback and input, and when you ask for it, report back and act on it.
In Leadership Is An Art, Max DePree outlines that “leaders must arrange for involvement on everybody’s part, leaders must make that involvement genuine and leaders must be genuinely open to the influence of others.”
Go-To #4: Leadership is a shared responsibility. Rely on your team; you cannot do it alone.
Stephen M.R. Covey relates that “ humble leaders do not stand alone, but rather on the shoulder of others who have gone before, and that they move upward only with the help of others.”
Go-To #5: Leadership is about heart. Lead with care, openness, and vulnerability.
Kouzes and Posner in The Truth About Leadership summarize that, “the highest performing managers and leaders are the most opening and caring. The best leaders demonstrate more affection toward others and want others to be more open with them.”
Through reflection and by purposeful actions, I have used the five go-to’s to enhance my leadership journey and to act with authenticity and integrity when leading others.