Outdated leadership theories claim that excellent leaders are born, not developed, or that certain natural qualities tend to create good leaders. Some of this may be true, but the entirety of who we are as individuals comes as we learn, grow, and develop throughout adolescence and adulthood. The essence of our behavior is molded and shaped by many factors, such as role models, education, and life experiences, and this is the core of the behavioral leadership theories. The truth is real leadership ability goes far beyond what we're born with. Leadership begins to reveal itself when we begin to operate in new or unfamiliar environments, engage with personalities or behaviors other than our own, and attempt to learn or execute unique skills.
Think about the captain of a football team in high school. They are generally thought of as the 'leader' by position, and perhaps knowledge and skill. Oftentimes, those athletes have been conditioning and playing the same sport for 7-10 years by the time they reach high school level. They've been learning the rules, positions, plays of the game, and even the skill-level of other athletes and teams for years. There is an expectation developed that is 'known.' Those athletes with exceptional talent may feel like they experienced a lifetime of success by the time they've reached college-level athletics. Then they show up to the tryouts and realize the playing field just got a little bit bigger. They see the talent they've not seen before, and there are unfamiliar plays they've not yet learned. The 'known' expectation quickly wanes, and the challenge becomes learning new things they've not previously learned while playing with teammates they know nothing about. It is here where the inherent leadership skills are revealed and tested, and the need for development truly begins. At this moment, self-awareness and people-awareness become increasingly important.
Consider this same scenario in life, however, replace sports with your specific experience as you navigated through your adolescent years, and entered adulthood. There comes the point in our lives when what we inherently know or are physically or mentally capable of becomes insufficient. The need to increase ourselves through additional knowledge and experience becomes imperative. It is not uncommon for people to reach adulthood and not fully understand their strengths and weaknesses or how to achieve their goals in life effectively. As leaders, how can we help our organization and our teammates grow and achieve their goals if we are unsure of our abilities and capacity for more? We will most certainly falter if we do not invest in our deliberate development.
Whether you've been in a leadership position for years or just starting your professional journey, the first step to unlocking your leadership potential is understanding your strengths. The DISC Leadership Report is an exceptional tool for any leadership development phase that will reveal your strengths and areas for improvement, and provides deep insights to help you identify the leadership style of others regardless of their position within the organization. Understanding your strengths as a leader enables you to establish better communication so you may learn your team's needs to equip and empower them in different areas supporting their growth and development.
Don't assume the world will stay the same, and your skill sets will remain sufficient. Now is the time to focus on deliberately developing ourselves and others as the need for leaders, mentors, and coaches rises with each global challenge businesses face year after year.
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