By LES MCKEOWN
For most people, the key to becoming a better leader lies not in training or skills development, but in self-awareness. For most of us, it’s our blind spots that hold us back, not the things we already know we need to improve on.
So here, in the interest of self-awareness, is a checklist of where I’ve learned over the years to look for my own blind spots, and for those of the leaders I coach.
Your answers to the 31 questions below will each have one of two obvious applications: either you’ll become more aware of leaning too much upon something; or conversely, you’ll become consciously aware of things that affect you negatively, draining your ability to perform.
Note: I’m not a psychologist or therapist, so I’ve stayed away from deep questions such as ‘What do you fear?’, and ‘What motivates you?’ and focused on information that’s actionable. Answering the questions below will generate an inventory of real tasks, people, things–even places–to either develop or discourage in your day-to-day leadership. So, why not grab a legal pad and get started:
1. What drives you crazy?
2. What makes you lazy?
3. What gets you excited?
4. What’s your preferred outgoing communication style (how do you like to convey information)?
5. What’s your preferred incoming communication style (how do you like to receive information)?
6. What type of people can’t you stand?
7. What type of people do you fall for too easily?
8. To what basic knowledge or skill do you return when faced with a difficult problem?
9. What can’t you know enough about?
10. About what have you heard all you ever want to know?
11. What type of environment juices you creatively?
12. What type of environment drains you creatively?
13. In what type of environment do you most effectively complete tiresome work?
14. In what type of environment do you least effectively complete tiresome work?
15. When is the best time of day for you to undertake creative work?
16. When is the worst time of day for you to undertake creative work?
17. When is the best time of day for you to undertake tiresome work?
18. When is the worst time of day for you to undertake tiresome work?
19. What is the best day of the week for you to undertake creative work?
20. What is the worst day of the week for you to undertake creative work?
21. What is the best day of the week for you to undertake tiresome work?
22. What is the worst day of the week for you to undertake tiresome work?
23. Do you have monthly and/or annual ‘creative / tiresome’ time rhythms you should be aware of?
24. What do you believe your core skill to be?
25. What do you believe you bring most to your organization?
26. What do you take on that you should leave to others?
27. What do you leave to others that you should be doing?
28. What usually convinces you of the truth of an argument?
29. What makes you stop listening to people?
30. How do you act differently when you’re in a group or team environment?
31. How do you act differently when you’re with people you love?
Looking for additional insights on how to enhance your leadership skills? Download a free chapter from the author’s book, “The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success” which provides a comprehensive model for developing yourself or others as an exceptional, world-class leader.