According to “The 80 Minute MBA” successful leaders know who they are! They understand their strengths but are humble enough and, dare I say it, confident enough to admit their own weaknesses. Understanding what they lack, they can then go on to select a rounded group of individuals who can work together in a strong team. According to researchers Robert Hogan, Gordon Curphy and Joyce Hogan, a realistic assessment of personal performance marks out leadership potential. Leaders whose self appraisal matched the assessment made by those working for them were the ones most likely to succeed. But finding out that assessment requires strength in personal relationships within a team that can be hard to achieve. So, of course, successful leaders are usually those with strong social skills as well – they can communicate and be communicated with.
The chances are that if you are humble and confident enough, and have the social skills necessary, to deal with asking others to give you an honest view of your performance, you will have done so long before you reach the top slot. It is a very good habit to cultivate as you develop your career. Make sure you take on a range of views and be prepared to listen to some difficult messages and to adjust. But don’t make changes based on just one view. If you hear something challenging from one direction, test it out in another. Bear in mind that each person you ask will have their own perspective e g your family members will probably see you differently from your boss. But there will be some recurrent themes and these are things to take on board and work with. Beware of asking a one dimensional questions – don’t just ask what you are poor at! Try to get a balanced view! Ask the people who like you but be brave enough to ask those who may have reservations – they might be biased but they will give you a new perspective.
This is probably not a task best tackled when you are feeling down or have just had some other confidence-challenging knock back. Go for it when things are going reasonably well and you were just about to become complacent. Dealing with the answers could just give that incentive to raise your game again and give you the edge. And remember you are not meant to be perfect or to have all the answers. Building a winning team is about recognising your own gaps!