Most of us learn to lead in a very random fashion. We learn from the people around us in our careers, and we generally have little or no control over the great majority of people we are exposed to in our work. If we are lucky enough to work with strong, effective leaders, we learn good leadership habits. And we may resolve to use those behaviors when we move into leadership roles.
If we are not so lucky, we work with ineffective leaders. And we might make a list of the behaviors we don’t want to use…often that is a long list!
In short, learning to lead becomes a random walk. Our ‘walk’ depends on whom we’ve been exposed to and learned from in the workplace.
It does not have to be that way. If we choose to learn to lead in a systematic way – on purpose – we can improve our leadership effectiveness and achieve significant results.
If we ask ourselves the following two questions, we can sketch out our own leadership qualities and how we acquired them. It’s a worthwhile exercise because it provides a framework to let us know what type of leader we currently are and how we could improve:
- What are the qualities of the best leaders you have worked with?
- What are the qualities of the worst leaders you have worked with?
Great leaders have embraced a set of behaviors that make them effective, and they have committed themselves to lead with purpose. That means they are dedicated to working systematically on improving their leadership skills, and to learning and adjusting their behaviors on a continuous basis.