by Jim Obermeyer
I recently attended a leadership session led by one of my favorite speakers on the topic. In this session he was talking about how leaders must learn to lead in all directions – “up” (those you report to); “down” (those who report to you); “around” (your peers) and most importantly, “in” (yourself). His take on this subject is that a good leader needs to spend at least as much time on self-leadership as they do on the other three. However, this is the area most leaders neglect.
How a leader is perceived by the other three constituents is largely based on how well a leader approaches leading their own life—how they manage their lives. And how they manage their own lives plays out in their actions, words and deeds—what is seen by others. Or, said another way: what they leak.
Here are seven areas he suggested we check to see how we are doing in self-leadership:
- Growth: This is all about the growth strategy you have for yourself. And it’s not just about the next promotion or the next job. This is about what you do on an on-going basis to improve your mind. What books have you read, or do you plan to read? Who do you listen to—your mentors, advisors, friends? What do you do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to continue to grow—intellectually and spiritually? Do you have a growth plan for yourself?
- Flexibility: Be honest with yourself here; are you open, flexible and creative? Are you open to change? Are you optimistic? Are you creative when it comes to solving problems? All of these characteristics say something about the way you approach problems and solutions. They say something about your ability to deal with the change that will inevitably come your way.
- Honesty: Can you have honest, helpful and healing conversations? Are you more about helping than about hurting? This has to do with how you deal with conflict and conflict resolution. It’s about not letting conflict go underground—about going directly to the person and understanding where the conflict came from rather than flaming out and being ugly.
- Joy: This may sound a little odd up front, but humor and laughter are extremely important in building strong teams. Teams that accomplish huge goals are teams that can be equally serious and funny. Do people smile and laugh in your meetings? Do people take you too seriously? Do you take yourself too seriously?
- Passion: Do you have a strong passion, energy and intensity about what you are doing? Do you work hard because you are impassioned about what you are doing? Would you do it regardless of how you are compensated? Do people see you as being passionate about life? And when you do work that hard, do you take time to let it go—to relax, spend time with friends and family?
- Humility: Believe it or not, you cannot conquer the world on your own. It doesn’t matter how hard you work; you have to have a team around you. When you get humble and realize that, you get the confidence in what you are wired to do, and in what your team is wired to do. Surround yourself with people smarter than you in some area of your life.
- Vision: Keep the big picture in mind. Whether it’s the vision for your company or department, or the vision for your life, you have to keep checking that you are still moving in that direction. And that helps you to realize that you are not crazy for doing it. You have to live it out.
The reality is that we could have a long discussion about each one of these seven points. But if you take a few moments right now to rate yourself on each of these areas, and honestly think about how you would respond to each of these questions, you can get some idea of what messages you are sending to those around you.
Is this the stuff you are leaking?
See you on the show floor.
Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 37 years, both as a corporate tradeshow manager and exhibit house owner. He is currently a vice president at Hamilton Exhibits and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.