Telling the Truth About Your Leadership

Have you recently received the results of a Leadership Assessment?  Or, perhaps feedback from a manager, colleague or team member? Feedback and assessments can be great tools for evaluating your performance, your strengths, and your weaknesses as a leader. But, they ultimately paint an incomplete picture.

What’s often missing is a bigger, more substantial understanding of not only who you are as a leader now, but also of what kind of leader you can and want to be. That kind of future-thinking perspective involves more than just a test; it’s a process. One that requires taking a cold hard look at yourself and telling the truth.

Telling the truth about your leadership can be difficult, and not just because some truths are unpleasant. Often, the larger hurdle that many of us face is an inaccurate view of who we think we are as a leader vs. how we are truly operating on a daily basis.

The only way to reconcile this discrepancy between self-perception, actions, and behaviors is to be very honest with yourself about your leadership, about your strengths and about what areas need further development.

When we tell the truth, we gain a new clarity about what we’re currently doing and—significantly—what we’re capable of doing.

Let’s go back to the assessment feedback for a minute. Once leaders get their results, they often reach out to me to ask: “Ok, now that the test has identified my top strengths and development areas, what are my next steps?” That’s a valid question, but I am more interested in their impressions of the feedback. Does it ring true to you? Do you have strengths and/or weaknesses that are not indicated in the report? What are your specific goals and how does the feedback you received relate to them?

Most importantly in these conversations with clients, I ask them to push past the results of their assessment and give me a thorough, honest “state of the union” on their leadership:

  1. How do you really feel about your leadership?
  2. Are you acting in your strongest capacity?
  3. Are you shying away from certain things?
  4. Are you playing a full A-game, or are you holding back?

This kind of honest conversation and self-reflection offers an important outcome. We are able to get a deeper, more complete picture of who the client actually is as a leader. We can see where they are giving it their all and where they are holding back—both on a broad scale and in the day-to-day. We get a clearer view of their aspirations, and compare those goals to their level of performance. If they have weak areas, we can determine when it’s necessary to build those skills and when the solution is to assemble a more experienced team to tackle those elements.

It’s certainly valuable for leaders to have these kinds of assessments, but they are just one part of a larger puzzle—one that takes into account your own wisdom and self-knowledge about who you are as a leader, where you’re falling short, and why.

It can be difficult to admit but when I work with clients who tell the truth this way, it often comes out that they know they’re not playing full out. They recognize a gap between their potential, their goals, their desired impact, and how they are showing up day to day. For one reason or another, they are disengaged and it bothers them. Acknowledging that truth is an important step in moving forward and achieving your uplevel.

Weekly Uplevel Practice

Here are a few actions to get started thinking about your own truth:

  1. Think about what you really want and don’t want as a leader. Sometimes identifying what you don’t want helps you to realize the opposite.
  2. Sketch out your true strengths. Think beyond what may or may not show up on a report or what others have told you. Look inside yourself.
  3. Identify your development areas honestly.  Take time to and the rationale behind developing them to ensure it’s the right skill at the right time. Connect those areas to achieving specific goals.

With these steps, you’ll begin to get a clearer, more honest picture of how you are operating on a deeper level. You’ll start telling the truth about who you are as a leader now, and what kind of leader you want to be!

If you’ve not taken a leadership assessment recently, have a look at the assessments we offer.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.