The Basal Of Leadership
The 2 Most Foundational Leadership Skills
A friend asked me if there were a few leadership skills that most of my coaching clients came to me for. In fact, there are two: self-knowledge and communication.
I have always been hesitant to share them because I know how they might come across - hyperbolic, simplistic, and artificially controversial. However, I believe these two skills are by far the most critical to good leadership, and all leaders should be working on them. If this rubs you the wrong way, I apologize. I am not trying to be controversial or get likes; please blame my lack of wit, not my will.
Let's dive in.
Skill 1: Self-knowledge
(or call it whatever you see fit - awareness, mastery, talanton ...)
Self-knowledge is like when you are a Honda Civic ...
- You know you are a Honda Civic
- You accept you are just a Honda Civic
- You know how to drive like a Honda Civic
- You drive like a Honda Civic
- You deliver the most value you can as a Honda Civic
That's self-knowledge - nothing more, nothing less. It's not complicated, but it is complex. To illustrate what being skilled at self-knowledge might look like, here are a few questions:
- What are my personal strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
- Who is the authentic me? What about my authentic self is useful to me, others, and the team?
- What motivates me? What will I find meaningful about my professional career when I am 40, 50, 60, on my deathbed, confessing to my mom, answering my children?
- What are my tendencies in how I choose, decide, act, and react?
- How can I stay true to my values even in challenging situations? How have I done so far?
- How do I come across? How do I want to come across? What are the gaps? How do I feel about the gaps?
- How do I behave when I am stressed and under pressure? What about when I am relaxed and in pleasure? What are my coping mechanisms?
- What triggers peace and calm in me? What makes me emotionally unhelpful? What are those emotions and how do I regulate them?
- How do I manage my resources, from energy to money to time to attention?
- How do I stop, start, continue? How do I give up, begin, persist?
- What do I know? What do I not know? What do I need to know?
Skill 2: Communication
I know. Communication is broad, and that's precisely why I think all leaders must be working on some aspects of how they communicate. It's the most encompassing skill. I find it useful to look at communication using five segments:
- Inform to educate
- Influence to convince
- Facilitate to resolve
- Motivate to inspire
- Empathize to relate
I have these five segments in front of me every time I talk to my clients. I use them to guide our investigations. Let me use a few questions to give you an idea:
- How can I effectively inform and educate my team on new company policies and procedures?
- How can I influence and convince investors or upper management to give me more money, budget, resources, headcounts?
- How can I facilitate discussions and debates among team members to resolve conflicts, spark creativity, cultivate trust, and endure candor?
- What techniques can I use to motivate and inspire others to want to grow, to have goals, to reach their goals, to achieve great (and difficult) results?
- How can I empathize with team members so I am relatable enough to be useful to them?
While there are other important leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, and negotiation, ultimately, self-knowledge and communication are the foundation upon which most other leadership skills are built.
What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Thank you for reading this. I think about leadership & psychology in the showers. I know it's odd, but these topics are important and fun. I hope you find them useful too.
Work diligently. You are bound to be successful.