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Leaders, Like Athletes, Are Constantly Being Tested

Leaders, like athletes, are constantly being tested. Competencies of leadership can seem endless. Like Russian dolls you keep pulling apart only to reveal more and more inside. Any deep dig of these competencies will simply lead to more competencies:

Being inspirational
Communicating with clarity
Drawing clear boundaries and expectations
Leading with empathy
Innovating
Defining and articulating a vision
Being flexible to an ever-changing world

The task of being a great leader can seem superhuman. This is why cultivating self awareness is key. It’s the life blood that runs through all competencies both defined and undefined. “Know thyself” is the foundation. How else can you improve performance?

Here is a assignment that may seem deceptively simple. Write down your values and how you imagine your leadership is perceived. Include descriptive language. Paint the picture. Include your qualities. The ones you believe resonate strongly. Don’t self censor. You don’t have to show them to anyone. You might even want to revisit the list and description over the course of a week in order to revise it. I call this your Leadership snapshot. And It can be ever developing.

The following week, speak to three people you trust and ask them to define the values you stand for and the qualities you resonate as they perceive them. Be clear about your desire for honest feedback and be mindful of your body language and tone around the answers you get. In fact, look at the feedback as an opportunity to practice a few things:

Breathing
Listening
Asking questions
Building trust
Staying open and curious
Accepting the responses that you get

Write down their perceived leadership snapshot and in private compare and contrast. (Writing will also give you something to do and help manage emotions.) Look for overlap and discrepancies. Look for pleasant surprises and challenges you didn’t even know you resonate.  People are amazingly perceptive. Instinctual and analytical. Use their perceptions as a resource. Because in my experience, it’s often very difficult for us to achieve objectivity about ourselves.

Back to comparing leaders to athletes. It’s often critical to get feedback in order to develop self awareness and perform at the highest of levels. As leaders, I invite you to find your mirrors wherever you can. and keep examining and reexamining.

As Socrates said- The unexamined life is not worth living.

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