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The Biggest Leadership Challenge is… Ourself

As a new decade begins, we look towards the future with a certainty that change will be present for us in some way, although we are yet to know how.
Change brings with it challenge. Issues that cannot be solved amongst our stakeholders and direct reports get passed up to us for resolution, operational and institutional challenges get passed down to us for implementation, and personal challenges nestle in the mix too. As leaders, operating in this uncertain world it would make sense to be on standby for another challenge to tackle beyond the current one.

As challenges become more complex, faster in arriving, needing to be resolved more quickly it occurs to us, at Creative Coaching, that it is not the challenges that require long term attention, it is ourselves. Our leadership style - how we view, assess and resolve a challenge - may be the result of focused learning and development or it may be the result of long-term experience.
However we became a leader, the biggest challenge we face is to consistently evaluate our leadership style, developing and improving it.
Model the best
The first step in developing self is to consider ‘how I would like to be seen’. Then to find the resources to learn from to develop the areas lacking in my leadership cadre. There are two pools to swim in for this learning – others’ and our own. Modelling the best bits of ourselves from different situations that help build our image of ourselves as a leader and modelling the behaviours of others we admire and respect. This doesn’t have to be a leader within our field, just as long as it is someone we feel familiar with to undertake some appraising of their leadership style. 
In the first instance, try and think about the broad brushstrokes of their style. Are they authoritative or consultative, do they talk at length to get people on board or do they simply lead by doing, are they distant or are they present? These high-level qualities colour the more specific actions taken when tackling any particular problem. 
Once we have created a summary, think about a recent leadership challenge. Use this new leadership palette to determine how they would have handled the same challenge. Where would their actions differ from our own? Were they more direct? Were they better informed before making decisions?
As long as we undertake this exercise with honest self-awareness it is always elucidating. Not because there are binary rights and wrongs for any situation, it’s because we’ll see places where the palette of our leadership can develop and change.
Strive for learning, everywhere
When it comes to honesty and the development of our leadership style, there is no better time for self-evaluation than when something has not gone as expected.
Unmet expectations, letting down those that rely on us is one of the toughest challenges a leader can face; interestingly, it can also be rewarding if treated as a learning experience. If we learn to fail fast, then learning is the key to making improvement – be honest, reflect well, ask others, talk through the decision-making process, seek to understand, then act differently next time.
Be the change…
Gandhi’s words are as resonant today as when he first uttered them. Knowing how we like to be led, committing to be that kind of leader, developing at every opportunity, being receptive to feedback, continuing to evolve, asking others what they want from us as their leader – these are the only constant tools we have at our disposal. While the landscape changes constantly around us, we can choose to adapt in its newness. We can grow and change. We can learn what works and what doesn’t. 
The greatest challenge we face is the continuing improvement of ourselves as humans and, of course, our leadership style follows.
It’s a challenge that never ends.
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Posted on Wed, February 26, 2020 in Leadership Personal Development
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