By Guest Blogger, Sean Larkan, Edge International Partner & Speaker at ALPMA's National Summit
If you cannot manage yourself, it is impossible to lead others effectively
When I started my blog a year ago I posted a summary of a talk by the former head of Toyota in South Africa and recognised captain of industry, Brand Pretorius - he and I shared a podium at the Boss of the Year Awards convention; he made some wonderful points of importance to existing and aspiring leaders and managers. One thing he said was "if you cannot manage yourself it is impossible to lead others effectively".
I absolutely agree with this statement but would adapt it to say "if you do not know yourself and cannot manage yourself it is impossible to lead others effectively ". Unless we know our strengths and work to build those, and have an understanding of areas for development (we all have them!), we are really operating in the dark from a leadership development perspective. In many cases we have no idea what makes us tick in regard to our thinking, our behaviours and importantly, how we interact with and relate to others.
Getting a clear picture of yourself
Whenever I coach or support new or aspiring senior managers or leaders this is one of the first things I recommend they do – get a clear picture of their own make-up, strengths and areas to work on. It is a massively important and helpful starting point. It even works for experienced leaders and managers. Very often we assume things about ourselves which are not what others see and experience. Sometimes this can hold us back.
Fortunately it is possible and relatively easy to undertake some highly reputable, scientifically-based diagnostics which can provide a remarkably accurate assessment of an individual. Some clients have said they found them to be ‘uncannily accurate’! The one I work with provides detailed and graphical feedback on how one stands in relation to twelve scientifically validated styles of behaviour and thinking, backed up by what steps to take to further develop your strengths and address any areas for development. It is a powerful combination. If the diagnostic is supported by a suitably qualified and experienced coach you will also be guided and supported in building on the results of the diagnostic. The handy thing is that they can easily be re-tested each year or so after that.
Research and apply new skills
Also, one of the great things is that contrary to past beliefs, while it always helps to have some of the characteristics of a "natural born leader", both leadership and management skills can and should be learned and developed. With the advent of the Internet and sophisticated search tools it is a relatively easy matter to locate a mind-boggling array of remarkably useful tips, techniques, methodologies and skills one can read about and quickly put into practice.
About our Guest Blogger
Sean Larkan, a partner of Edge International a global leader in the evolution of the legal industry, is a growth strategist, accredited master coach and former managing partner of leading law firms in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.