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Leadership Self Examination

Are you a good leader? Want to find out? If you’re looking to benchmark your leadership ability the following self examination will give you a baseline to build from. While this test is not as detailed as more comprehensive assessments, I have nonetheless found it to be fairly thorough. That said, any self exam is only as good as the honesty of those taking the test. If you check your ego at the door and give a thoughtful, introspective evaluation of your ability, it is likely that you’ll learn something about your leadership abilities or lack thereof. Better yet, for those of you bold enough to place yourself under what might be the harsh scrutiny of others, you can get the benefits of a mini leadeship 360 review by asking your co-workers to rate you as a leader. If you’re game to test your leadership ability read on to take the exam…

The examination is broken down into 10 sections, each worth 10 points. If you believe you possess a fully developed competency in a section give yourself 10 points. If you possess no competency whatsoever give yourself 0 points. Grade your examination as follows:

  • 90 – 100 points = A
  • 80 – 89 points   = B
  • 70 – 79 points   = C
  • 60 – 69 points   = D
  • 59 & below        = F

As I mentioned above, use the results of the exam to determine your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. If you find that you lack skill sets and competencies in certain areas seek out mentors and coaches to shore-up your weaknesses, and more importantly, use your professional advisors to assist you in leveraging your strengths. On with the exam….

Section I: Character.
Great leaders do the right thing regardless of circumstances, situational context or other influencing factors. They will not compromise their value system and personal ethics for temporary gain. Without a consistent and enduring display of sound character you’ll find it difficult to earn the trust and respect of those you lead. While your character will be tested often as a leader, great leaders no there is no substitute for the truth.

Section II: Vision.
Great leaders possess the ability to create a vision for the organizations they lead. They have the foresight to not only create a clear and well defined vision, but also have the ability to articulately communicate the vision. Perhaps most importantly they have the ability to align interests and sell the vision unifying leadership, management, staff and external stakeholders as well.

Section III: Strategy.
Great leaders are strategic thinkers who have the ability to translate their vision into an actionable strategy to insure its success. Strategically inclined leaders think in terms of creating leverage, anticipating & leading change, managing risk & opportunities, being customer focused, astutely deploying resources, always insuring that the business model is in alignment with current market conditions, but fluid enough to accommodate changes in market dynamics and any other items that create an advantage or defend a weakness.

Section IV: Tactics.
Great leaders tend to be tactical geniuses and display a strong bias to action. They understand the difference between raw data and useful information. Moreover they know how to leverage information and resources to achieve their objectives. They are focued, results driven and achievement oriented.

Section V: Focus.
Great leaders are focused on the mission at hand. They don’t bite-off more than they can chew by falling prey to initiative overload. Great leaders don’t major in the minors and understand that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing…Great leaders are committed to not losing focus and not giving-up.

Section VI: Persuasiveness.
Great leaders understand how to manage conflict and close positional gaps. They tend to be contextual leaders who know which skill sets to draw upon based upon the circumstances at hand to create needed outcomes and to catalyze change. They lead by serving as opposed to intimidating. Great leaders are masters of inspiration being able to take even the most critical skeptics and convert them into evangelists for the cause.

Section VII: Likeability.
Great leaders possess great interpersonal skills. They tend to be people-centric and understand the concept of servant leadership. People tend to like leaders who display good decisioning skills and high levels of integrity. While great leaders are typically very direct, they are also intuitive individuals who thrive on finesse and subtlety. They don’t expect or need to be liked to get the job done, but realize the value that likeability can offer where it can be achieved without comprising trust or integrity.

Section VIII: Decisioning Ability.
Great leaders possess the ability to consistently make good decisions. They thrive on making the tough call and are willing to be accountable for their actions. Great leaders also have the ability to make decisions quickly and often with incomplete data sets. Rarely do leaders have the luxury of being able to secure all of the information needed for a risk free decision. Rather they understand how to make a timely decision while managing any corresponding risks as others are still trying to connect the dots.

Section IX: Team Building.
Great leaders create great teams throughout the entire value chain. They understand the need for talent and are effective at recruiting, deployment, development and retention of tier-one talent. Great leaders also surround themselves with the best professional advisors possible and they openly seek the counsel of others in matters of importance. They are committed to both personal and professional growth. They tend to almost be addicted to increasing their knowledge base and sphere of influence. They are voracious learners always looking for better methods, different approaches, enhanced efficiencies, better technology and increased velocity. They are not afraid of change and growth in fact they tend to relish it.

Section X: Results.
The proof of great leadership is ultimately found in the results being attained. Leaders can be extremely strong in any of the areas above, but if they are not leading effectively or productively, if they are not meeting performance expectations, then they have work to do. Great leaders get results…

There you have it…rate yourself from 1 – 10 in each of the above sections, tabulate your score and assess the outcome based upon the grading schedule contained above. Now that you have your grade in hand, create a plan for consistent and sustainable growth in your leadership ability and review it regularly taking measure of your progress or lack thereof.

Sidebar – If you’re interested in more in-depth leadership assessments or development plans just let me know and we can talk about solutions better designed to meet specific needs. Lastly, feel free to comment on how accurately the self-exam measured your ability and identified potential development opportunities.

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    Avatar

    landoncreasy

    December 13, 2010 at 12:04 am

    Hi Mike,
    What a great summary of leadership traits! I love the way you have clearly differentiated between strategy and tactics – so many people get them confused and end up playing checkers instead of chess…

    Thanks,
    Landon Creasy http://landoncreasy.wordpress.com/

    Avatar

    Roger Martin

    December 13, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Mike:

    This is an excellent tool. It is as comprehensive for leadership traits as I’ve seen in many other assessments. Thank you for sharing this freely.

    Avatar

    davidburkus

    December 13, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Great exam. I wonder though, if the results section gives too much wiggle room. I think many in leadership get to choose the metric they use to measure, and they seem to always choose the one that makes them look good. Perhaps results should be filled out someone other than the leader.

      Avatar

      mikemyatt

      December 13, 2010 at 12:18 am

      Hi David:

      Thanks for the thoughts. As this is a self evaluation your observation could really apply to all categories, thus my warning about being honest with yourself in your assessments. That said, your observation about the need to measure the "right" metrics is an astute one. Self evaluations are a great gut check, but even better gut checks come from being critically assessed by others.

    Avatar

    Kavita

    December 13, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Great article. Thanks for covering all the aspects of leadership.

    I believe that leaders should also be able to create an environment of trust wherein employees feel empowered. Trust can be built by encouraging transparency in communication and information sharing. Leaders should also be able to create a sense of urgency by enabling the employees to see the truth of the company’s current state and as well as feel the “romance” of its possible future state.

    These tenets are discussed at length by Vineet Nayar of HCL Technologies, in his book ‘employees first, customers second’.

      Avatar

      mikemyatt

      December 13, 2010 at 12:17 am

      Hi Kavita:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that trust and urgency are critical factors for successful leadership. Both of these traits are covered in the exam above as either a by-product or a sub-component thereof. As I mentioned, this is a very brief derivation of more sophisticated evaluations, and therefore not exhaustive in scope. That said, thanks for pointing out these critical factors.

    Avatar

    ATIG

    December 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Dear Mike,

    Transparency in communication can help us to do better.
    But Everything has a price, there is no smoke without fire!!!!
    Ambiguity in communication offers opaque expectations maybe we have to think more and more about its paradox.

    should anything be transparent?

    Thanks,
    sami

      Avatar

      mikemyatt

      December 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks for the comment Sami. I always appreciate your insights. Transparency is an absolute must for leaders. Leaders who operate behind a veil of secrecy are only setting themselves up for a rude awakening. That said, there are certain proprietary topics clearly not meant for public disclosure. I don't view this as a lack of transparency, but rather a display of astute business sense. Thanks again for stopping by Sami.

    Avatar

    ATIG

    December 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Dear Mike,

    To achieve the objective, need more educations.
    I admit my bad result on your self examination,and correction are needed in all areas.
    the information age help to learn more good and accurate knowledge.
    I try adjust the sail's and no matter going to run the risk of making a mistake.
    Leadership comes from making decisions, right or wrong
    Thanks for helping people.
    Sami

      Avatar

      mikemyatt

      December 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Sami:

      Thanks for your kind words and your candor. Recognizing development opportunities is the first step to growth. Now that you've taken the self-exam, it's time to go to work. Best wishes Sami…

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