Leading Ourselves First

Lao Tzu

As Anita said last week, this year we’re revisiting the MnSCU leadership competencies. The list is posted on the Higher Edge site, and you can see that it’s categorized into Leader of Self, Leader as Relationship Builder, Leader as Manager, and Leader as Innovator.

It’s not an accident that the first topic is Leader of Self. I was recently talking with a colleague and we agreed that it’s been a long time since either of us saw a leadership development program that didn’t begin with some sort of self-assessment. Helping participants understand their own styles, strengths, and preferences is a building block to other skills such as communicating effectively, leading teams, and managing conflict.

A few years ago I taught an undergraduate course on team development. We started with the StrengthFinder assessment, and also looked at communication preferences and conflict styles. It was interesting to see their reactions. In the final evaluations I heard several comments along the lines of “at first I couldn’t see what my individual strengths had to do with teamwork, but now I understand how my style and preferences helps me work with others.”

I’ve found that self-assessment, especially combined with self-reflection, is a key part of leading myself. It helps me know how to repeat successes and to anticipate where I might struggle. Based on that my new year’s resolution, which has been the same for several years, is to talk less and listen more. It’s a work in progress!

What goals do you have for leading yourself first?

Dee Anne Bonebright

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