Here’s a Leadership Gift – Just Cut and Paste

Last week’s Read2Lead post promised to tell you “how to take a leap forward in leadership effectiveness.” In the post, I was reveling in how I had received specific coaching from a student. His feedback was entirely new to me and thus promised me – and I think it is delivering – behavior that will allow me to take that leap forward.  The reason his feedback was so powerful is that he pointed out a gap between what I 100% intended and thought I was doing, and the way people were experiencing my behavior. The inside and outside were not matching.  

And so I wrote last week: “the only way to iron out whether your intentions are matched by your behaviors is to ask!” 

So, this week, I offer you a “leadership gift” to make it real.  Feel free to take the two short paragraphs that follow this, and cut and paste them into an email message.  From whom would you want feedback?  Consider first the key people you lead:  your direct reports, children, siblings, then your spouse/BFF and co-workers (don’t you lead them, and sometimes they lead you?). You might send it to your manager, too.  Send it to the important people who might see inconsistency between your intentions and your behaviors. Bonus, the only real work required by the three blank lines is to revisit (or visit) those values that you hope would shine through all you do – a great re-focusing exercise in itself.

Dear ,

As I begin the week, I want to learn something that, by definition, I can’t learn by myself, because I can’t see myself as others do.  I’d like your input.  Like most of us most of the time, I have good intentions.  But I know that sometimes my sincere intentions may not line up with my actual behaviors.  In our relationship, what I hope and intend to convey by words and actions are my core values of _____________, _____________, and _____________.

If you’d be willing to take a few minutes, I would love it if you would scribble a few of my behaviors that do demonstrate those values, because it helps for me to know what I do right.  And then, please write a behavior or two that you have seen (or a behavior that’s lacking) which seems inconsistent with these values. Feel free to describe real ways I can do better.  I think we all want to live our values.  My knowing how others may see how I can improve and be more authentic would be a gift to me.

Thanks, me.

Let me know if you do it, please.  And give me feedback if you think this approach could be improved. I’m hoping it aligns with core values of integrity, love and growth.

Lead with your best self.