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What's Wrong With Your Leadership Skills?

by Bill Thomas

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Published on this site: January 2004 - See more articles from this month

I bet you can't tell me... how many times have you wondered why your ideas failed to influence, persuade or lead others.

Sometimes, decisions can be risky propositions but you and your colleagues shouldn't have to bet the house on your leadership skills.

If you pay attention to a few critical items, you can become a better, more effective and inspirational leader.

The concepts outlined in this article will help you examine the key aspects of your leadership duties and show you how to improve yourself through a minimum of effort.

STEP ONE: Use Your Situation To Identify Needs, Problems, Pay-offs and Opportunities.

Those who do become effective leaders quickly learn the importance of perceiving, 'scanning' or reading the hidden realities formed by the landscapes, patterns or shapes of the situations facing them.

Investing your attention, time and efforts into discovering potential outcomes for each situation will bring you highly lucrative returns.

You must adopt a series of techniques that will enable you to test, investigate, evaluate and determine your choices.

Your methods should strive to unlock the possibilities for growth, resourcefulness and productivity that the situation contains.

The success of your solutions, decisions and alternatives will depend on your 'scanning' skills.

STEP TWO: Empower Your Success With A Vital, Vivid, Vibrant Vision!

Have you ever written a vision statement? Did your statement excite others, were they inspired by it, was it able to pass the 'test-of-time'?

Your vision depends on your findings, conclusions and answers in step number one - your words and concepts will have to address those opportunities, solve those problems and satisfy those needs.

Take note of Tom Peters' advice, "If a window of opportunity appears, don't pull down the shade."

To communicate the true power of your vision be sure to open-up the curtains and reveal the blazing glory of your personal and organizational values, the sparkling wealth-potential of your resources and the glimmering time-horizon of your hopes.

In short, you want your vision to imagine the physical, intellectual, spiritual and developmental attributes of your envisioned reality.

What will your vision look like, what will we think of it, how would others be motivated by it and believe in its goodness, in what ways will we grow when it is fulfilled?

Your visions will have much more impact when you remember to include those people who must make the vision come true. It's always a good idea to include your associates, partners, suppliers and customers in your vision-creation efforts.

STEP THREE: Lead With A Robust Agenda

Your agenda covers the key priorities that must be taken care of to transform your vision into a successful, prosperous and viable reality.

Your agenda helps concentrate your team's attention on growth and shared beliefs as it also acts as a catalyst for:

  1. Managing your vision,

  2. Ordering your strategy,

  3. Directing your work patterns,

  4. Selecting your styles and

  5. Performing your roles.

In a way, your agenda assumes the function of a central nervous system because it should immediately inform you on the health and wellness of your entire venture.

I strongly recommend that your leadership agenda be used to oversee, optimize and organize your enterprise - your agenda should encompass these 7 broad areas:


[Universe-oriented] Frontiering,




Syntropy and


STEP FOUR: Strategy Gives Your Venture Discipline and Will-Power

Leaders use strategies to indicate approach, direction and intent. Your strategy must fulfill all three of those objectives to ensure the success of your vision.

You may see your strategies as guideposts, navigation charts and maps for your journey towards the realization of your vision.

While a strategy is not the actual terrain, a well-conceived strategy does provide disciplined support for executing on the important things.

Strategic intents can serve as an inspiration to others and can transform them into leaders for your cause.

In general terms, your strategy must help you:

  • Engender trust and positive self-regard

  • Define responsibility

  • Exercise control

  • Judge performance and progress

  • Guide the process of change

STEP FIVE: Adapt Your Behaviors To Serve The Vision

Leaders serve the needs of multiple constituents. Your leadership duties demand that you work with different environments, people, resources, plans, dynamics and many other entities.

Your duties force you to be consistent, fair and honest in all that you do as the leader. However, there are essential attitudes, behaviors and focus you must incorporate into your activities.

You may need to operate out of differing motives - for example,

There are times when you will want to create or build something new - yet at other times, you will want to provide a service to others or be driven by the incessant constraints of time - the complete range of your motives will need to be exercised throughout your life as leader.

You will want to ask yourself about your mental attitude - are you flexible, dynamic in nature or intensity, are you open to various points of view?

The more positive your attitude the greater your capacity for seeing the potential, accepting change or being open to new ideas.

You can spend thousands and devote weeks of precious time to formal classroom instruction. You could read hundreds of books on leadership related topics. You are welcome to try and learn from your mistakes and eventually you will master the art of leadership.

I have found the steps outlined above to be extremely easy to remember and simple to understand in my own practice of leadership. In fact, I have applied them to my personal, business and community situations with great results.

Gurus like Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Jack Welch have discussed these five principles at length in their work.

Many great historical figures including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy and Marie Curie have demonstrated many of these skills in their leadership roles.

Your leadership success depends on your agreement with Churchill's wise observation: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

These 5 steps provide you with ways to approach all your life adventures - will you walk with confident expectations for positive outcomes, will you commit your resources to growing stronger and will you use your own personal toolkit to hone your leadership skills?

Bill Thomas produces "The Leadership Toolkit" - a web based training program that improves your leadership skills, energizes creativity and transforms you into a persuasive, empowering leader. Inspire Confidence, Be Creative, Enhance Your Leadership Influence - Get "All the Tools You Need To Lead!" www.leadership-toolkit.com/info.html

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