By Jay Greaves, VP of Sales Effectiveness, Ceridian
One of the foundational principles of Organization Development (my graduate degree) – the discipline of helping organizations, and the people in them, reach their potential – is “self as instrument.” In essence, to help others you must first understand yourself. Lacking this understanding of your own strengths and challenges may mean that instead of helping others, you in reality project your own “baggage” onto others and can actually do more harm than good.
A good place to begin is to ask yourself: would you follow you? Are you behaving in a way that would inspire you? If not, there is a good chance that before you try to be a leader, you might need to focus first on yourself. To paraphrase something that I heard long ago and that has stuck with me: “would the child I once was be proud of the adult I’ve become?”
If you travel on airplanes, you’ve heard this put in perspective in the safety briefing — “In the event of an emergency where cabin pressure is lost, masks will drop from panels above. Pull the masks to the full extent of the tubing and oxygen will begin to flow. If traveling with children or others that need assistance, place the mask on yourself first, then help others.”
Before someone can competently and confidently lead others, they must first understand themselves and their strengths and weaknesses in leading. This is the only way you can develop your leadership skills and really lead authentically.
If you want to do a self-assessment on leadership, ask yourself the following questions:
- When working with others, what am I doing well?
- When I’m working with others where do I struggle?
- Am I being honest about my leadership experience and ability?
- Where am I unsure and need help about leadership?
- If I can’t help others, who do I know that can?
These are all great questions to ask. Looking for something more formal or structured? It’s likely your organization has assessments and resources that you can access. Ceridian, for example, offers Manager’s Essentials Training to all employees within a manager role. This course offers case-based training in a great learning environment. Reach out to your HR team to find out if they offer something similar! Or if you have an Employee Assistance Program, such as Lifeworks, you might have leadership assessments and resources available. Or perhaps ask your HR team if your organization has preferred assessments and resources.
I want to end with another quote, one that has inspired me and I’ve used to help others.
“Your past is not your potential. In any hour you can choose to liberate the future.” – Marilyn Ferguson.
Jay Greaves is a Strategic HR & OD/OE consultant, Vice President at Ceridian HCM, community volunteer. He lives in Long Beach, California and is passionate about working to make our world a better place.