Skill Assessment: Grow Into Who You Used To Be
I have the great privilege once again of speaking to my alma mater this afternoon - Oklahoma State University. I will have 75 leaders from across the campus in Tulsa for two hours. The program is one I created a few years back called the Unmade Leader. The concept is very simple - leaders are born and then unmade. It is based on research and observations that as young people we have many traits that make us great leaders. Then over time, because of pride, failures, peer pressure, misguided priorities, etc., those traits become diluted, diminished or deleted.
The program today is built on seven specific traits we tend to lose as we age, get more educated and/or get more experienced. Two examples are energy and trust. Being young is synonymous with having a ton of energy. Age naturally changes this. However, great leaders are able to defy nature and maintain an energetic mind, body and spirit. This allows them to not only get more done, but also inspire others to do the same. A positive, active attitude is highly contagious.
Our perspective of trust also changes as we grow older, more educated and more experienced. The major change that negatively impacts leadership effectiveness is thinking you are above the laws - both the small and big ones. There is an innocence that we lose over time that distorts our thinking about how we do life. We think that because we are adults or professionals we can bend rules. A small example is responding to voice mails or emails. When you get a request from someone, it is not only unprofessional, but also damaging to your trust account to allow a long period of time to pass before you respond. The distorted thinking is, "my time and attention is more valuable than your need for even a small portion of it." This is your ego getting in the way of good manners and trust building.
The big challenge of this afternoon's program will be to "grow into who you used to be." Many times we are so focused on learning more, doing more, getting more education, getting more professional development, etc. when the reality may be that you need to start forgetting some ways you have learned and grow back into the powerful leader you used to be.
By the way, the other five leadership traits that become diluted, diminished or deleted over time are: optimism, decisiveness, authenticity, appreciation and growth.