Contributed by CEO Coach Henna Inam
It’s the end of the year. You’re scrambling to make the numbers, completing performance reviews for your people, finalizing business reviews so plans for next year can be fine-tuned. Sound familiar? For each of the last 20 years of my corporate career, as each year drew toward a close it was a mad scramble to year end. This year as an entrepreneur, I followed some of the familiar steps. Then I had a bit of an epiphany. I was leaving out perhaps one of the most important measures of my future success and fulfillment – how did I do as a leader this year?
So this year I am planning to give myself the gift of reflection during the week between the Christmas and New Year. I hope that each of us takes some quiet time, a journal, and the inspiration to do a “Personal Leadership Review”. Most leadership is fairly unconscious, based on habits and behavior patterns we’ve learned over time. A “Personal Leadership Review” helps us become more conscious of ourselves as leaders and over time we can choose to adopt leadership practices that will help us grow as leaders. According to Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the traits of knowing and managing ourselves and knowing and managing others are highly correlated with our success and fulfillment. On average, those who score higher on Emotional Intelligence earn $34,000 more that those who don’t.
Here are some questions I am planning to ask myself during my “Personal Leadership Review.” What will you ask yourself?
How Did I Lead Myself?
A big aspect of growth as a leader is in self-awareness of our strengths, our energizers, and our potential derailers. Here are some questions I am planning to ask myself.
- What did I learn about my leadership strengths? Were there any new strengths that I discovered?
- How well did I leverage my leadership strengths?
- What were the peak experiences this year where I found both success and fulfillment? What were some common themes among these peak experiences?
- How well did I take care of my personal energy? What have I discovered about my personal energizers? What demotivates or de-energizes me and what can I do about that?
- What were some areas where I did not meet my objectives? What would I do differently in order to have greater success in the future?
- How much did I get myself out of my comfort zone this year? In what areas did I grow this year?
- How well did I integrate my personal and professional priorities? What needs to be put in greater focus?
- Who are the people I can count on to give me honest feedback?
How Did I Lead Others?
I remember one of my biggest surprises was discovering what people truly remember about my impact in one of my corporate assignments. When I was running our company’s business in Mexico, we experienced great share gains, significant increases in innovation, and very good improvements in profit – the stuff great resumes are made of. Yet, what I hear from the people in the business – those who still keep in touch with me five years later – is more about the impact I had on the culture. What people remember is how a leader makes them feel. What they remember is the kind of environment for success the leader creates.
So here are some questions for reflection:
- What do my direct reports, superiors and peers believe about my impact on them?
- How well do I recognize and leverage the strengths of people on my team?
- How clearly am I communicating and engaging others in the vision/strategy?
- How engaged is my direct report team and the team under them?
- What did I do well in engaging others, what can I improve?
- What is the culture I am creating through my actions? Culture is simply the behavior we exhibit as leaders, not something we put on a fancy power point presentation.
- How do I leave people feeling when I meet with them? I had a boss who used to say that the mark of a good leader is not how people feel about the leader after they meet with them, but how the leader leaves them feeling about themselves.
- Who are the people that I mentored and sponsored this year? How well did I do as a mentor or sponsor to them? How well are they succeeding?
I hope these questions provide some starting food for thought for your own “Personal Leadership Review”. Do comment and share some of the questions you chose to ask yourself. Was this a helpful exercise for you? What did you discover?
Henna Inam is a CEO Coach focused helping women become transformational leaders. A Wharton MBA, and former C-Suite executive with Novartis and P&G, her passion is to engage, empower, and energize women leaders to transform themselves and their businesses. Sign up for her blog at www.transformleaders.tv.