Know thyself– Socrates
Almost every great philosopher has stated the importance of knowing yourself. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the list goes on. But what does it mean to know yourself? Most importantly, perhaps, it means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This is especially important for leaders. Knowing your strengths means you can play to those strengths. Knowing your weaknesses means you are aware of how you can grow. This is especially helpful when it comes to leadership development. What leadership skills do you already have? What leadership skills do you need? In this blog, we’ll give you a few tips and tricks to answer both of those questions.
What are leadership skills?
When we talk about leadership skills, we often talk about “competencies.” A competency is a characteristic, skill, attitude, or behavior which when present, enhances job performance. Competencies are like skills, but they are a bit more all-encompassing. Competencies can reflect what an employee does, feels, and knows about the job. A leadership competency then is a competency that enhances leadership performance.
What leadership skills do you have?
If you’re looking to identify what leadership skills you have, there are a couple of options available to you. First, ask those around you! Friends, family, and co-workers will likely be able to tell you what they’ve observed from your time together. Ask questions like:
- Which tasks or activities do you think I’m particularly good at?
- What do I bring to a team or collaborative situation?
- What would you say are my talents or gifts, things that come naturally to me?
While it might be a little uncomfortable to ask others to sing your praises, you can follow-up with similar questions about areas in which you have room to grow (see below). Apart from asking others, you can also pose these questions to yourself. Spend some time thinking about your experiences, things that went particularly well, and how you contributed to that success. Finally, you can use assessments to test how you score on particular leadership competencies. In fact, we recommend that you do this either way. Assessments have many advantages over the thoughts and opinions of others (and yourself), including the ones below.
Why use leadership assessments?
Benefits of using leadership assessments over other methods of measurement include:
- Quick and easy to use (especially online assessments)
- Objective; free from bias
- Standardized; great for groups
- Structured; easy to scale
- Precise; numerical scores (great for measuring progress)
What leadership skills do you need?
In addition to knowing what leadership skills you already have, it’s also important to recognize areas where you have room to grow. You can find these areas the same way you found your strengths. First, you can ask others. Try posing questions like, “What skills can I work on developing?” or “Have you noticed any habits that I can improve?” Also spend some time reflecting on your own experiences. Think of times when work hasn’t gone so well. What could you have done better? What skills or abilities would you have needed to do so? Finally, assessments can be used to identify areas where you have room to grow. Most assessments will provide scores on each skill, or competency, measured. Often you will receive a rank-ordered summary of results. When you’re looking at these scores it’s important not to fixate on your lowest ones. While these certainly have room for development, you will want to start with competencies where you scored moderately high. These competencies represent areas where you already have some skills or abilities, which provides a much better foundation for development.
In terms of identifying which leadership skills you need (i.e., prioritizing which development opportunities you want to pursue first), here it will depend on your goal. Is there a particular department or position you’d like to one day be a part of? If so, look at the leadership skills necessary for that role or that environment. Start by developing those, then work your way down, all the while remembering your strengths and taking time to capitalize on those as well.
Introducing the LSP-R
If you’re looking for a leadership assessment to help you find your strengths and development opportunities, check out the Leadership Skills Profile – Revised (LSP-R). The LSP-R is a personality-based assessment of leadership skills that can be used to guide leadership development efforts. The test scores individuals on 50 leadership competencies including cognitive, personal, interpersonal, and senior leadership skills. Everyone who takes the LSP-R will automatically recieve a Focus Report which includes a summary of scores and analysis of results, as well as templates and activities for creating a personalized development plan.
Looking for More?
If you have questions about the LSP-R, your Focus Report, or leadership assessments in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Over the last 50 years we’ve worked with more than 8,500 private and public organizations across North America. We’ve got lots of tips and tricks to share, and our consultants are always happy to chat.
Erica Sutherland, Ph.D.
SENIOR CONSULTANT & EXECUTIVE COACH
Erica completed her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational psychology at Western University. She is a Senior Consultant at SIGMA, where she delivers consulting services and Succession Planning solutions to clients. As a member of SIGMA’s executive coaching team, Erica works one-on-one with leaders to develop talent. She also brings her expertise in measurement and psychometrics to the R&D team, assisting with the development and validation of SIGMA’s many assessments.
Brittney Anderson, Ph.D.
LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT & EXECUTIVE COACH
Brittney is a member of our coaching and consulting team. She brings her expertise in evidence-based practice to provide companies with leadership solutions that meet their needs. Primarily, Brittney helps her clients prepare for their future with succession planning and comprehensive leadership development programs. As an executive coach, she helps leaders hone their skills using a process-based approach to development.
Glen oversees SIGMA’s sales and marketing activities. As a skilled presenter and trainer, he has designed and delivered engaging and entertaining workshops and webinars to help leaders and HR professionals enhance their understanding of how our products and services can be used to realize potential within their organizations.