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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training firm devoted to developing leaders to produce greater professional and personal results.

Is learning how to be a better “leader” really all we need?

If you follow Monday Moments with Monica, you may have noticed our progression this month from identifying high performers to developing your leadership brand to the value of improving communication skills in the workplace. It may seem to be a disjointed direction, but they are all connected and the crux of real leadership skills. Leadership is just one thing and the simple and singular concept of leadership, isn’t everything we need.

To be a good leader and become a better leader, one must focus on all the facets that make this possible: communication, confidence, reputation, perception, delegation and of course, action, among others. This is why as a leadership development expert I often receive feedback that my posts seem all over the place. Ha! And why yes, yes they are, but so is leadership. It’s all over the place. Not in a way that demands we become all things to all people, but in a way that clearly shows us leadership isn’t a one sentence conversation or five minute training class. At a minimum it is a compilation of at least these three things:

Desire

If you follow me on twitter (@monicawofford) you’ve seen me share that anyone of any personality can be a leader. That means that no matter if you’re driven, ambitious, type A, or a Commander, or quiet, conservative, laid back, loyal and a Relater, you can lead. Period. How that Commander does it will simply look different and attract different followers than how that Relater does it. In fact, I’ve often wondered what it would look like if Ghandi had been this aggressive, fast talking, action-oriented type of guy. His actions were not that of the typical CEO, but his results were better than most. It’s about desire…long before behavior.

Skills

Once you have the desire to be a leader, if it is a new role, perhaps a simple leadership training class IS your next step. If you’ve been a leader for a while, frolic in the executive ranks, then your need is more geared toward an individual, credible, executive coach that can help you develop the finer skills of leading you can’t see simply because you’re too close to your own behavior. Whatever the skills are that you need to become a better leader, remember that skill development is only one aspect of how well you lead. The same is true of communication, delegation, recognition, motivation, strategic planning, determining compensation, managing public persona, interacting with your boards even when you don’t wanna… okay so that was just so I could rhyme… these are all skills, not the sum total of what you need to lead.

Practice

With new skills comes a need for practice. You might be the most fantastic leader to the team you lead now, but what happens when they promote you to lead a different area of expertise? What happens when a layoff is announced and you must counsel those who are RIF’d and work through survivor’s guilt of those who stay? You’ll have new opportunities to practice new skills from new circumstances as often as you can keep up. Don’t let your desire to be “done” with learning leadership keep you from learning and practicing the new skills you might need.

Leadership is a series of steps and actions that are ongoing and continually molded into what is needed by you and those you lead. No matter if you’ve been promoted, but not prepared; if you’re the lone leader of the voices in your head; spend time leading you or leading others, leadership is a skill we all need and with which we can all succeed. While the statement “leadership is not everything” may make you tilt your head to the side like the old RCA dog, the point here is that talking about Leadership as if it is clearly definable and single dimensional isn’t reality. Perhaps it is best said that while leadership as one concept isn’t “everything”, indeed it is possible that everything is relevant to leadership.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

 

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