Have you ever noticed that someone who’s really good at something tends to underestimate their ability? And someone who’s not so good at it tends to think they’re better than they are?
This is actually a documented phenomenon. If you like psychology, you may have even heard of it – the Dunning-Kruger effect. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as “a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.” But I find it’s best summed up by the famous quote, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” How true that is!
The Long Leadership Development Journey
As a young leader thrust into team leadership, I was confident in my abilities and eager to make an impact – too confident, some might say. But the more I gained experience, the more I saw there was to improve and expand my leadership ability.
And then, I discovered John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and I became inspired to up-level my leadership. I began to study the habits and behaviors of successful leaders and identified seven key steps that helped me increase my leadership awareness.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE.
Everybody has a leadership style. How you lead influences how you motivate, engage, correct, and communicate with those you’re leading. And knowing how you lead is one step toward self-awareness, which is any effective leader’s best friend. Take time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and how they influence your leadership style.
2. SEEK FEEDBACK.
Leadership development is like a puzzle that we must complete after gathering the pieces from others. Seeking the perspectives of your teams and colleagues is a valuable way to gain insight into your leadership style and identify areas where you can improve.
3. LEARN FROM OTHERS.
John Maxwell says that leadership is more caught than taught. The best way to see what makes a leader effective is to study the habits and behaviors of effective leaders. Once we become the students of the masters, we can pick up on practical skills and techniques that impact others.
4. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS.
Making intentional connections with your team and colleagues is essential to effective leadership. By fostering a positive and supportive work environment, you can inspire and motivate your team to achieve their best work.
5. EMBRACE DIVERSITY.
Diversity is strength. By valuing different perspectives and experiences, you can create a more inclusive, innovative, and productive team.
6. CULTIVATE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
This was so hard for me early in my career. I didn’t see the need for emotional literacy until I saw the importance of connection. When we become more emotionally aware, we can better understand our team’s needs, motivations, and strengths, and communicate with them more effectively.
7. INVEST IN YOUR DEVELOPMENT.
The best leaders never stop learning. As I began to grow I attended conferences, read books, and took courses – and I still do to this day. Investing in your own development is one of the most effectives ways to up-level your leadership.
As a leader, you set the standard for your team. When they look at you, they see a model of how your workplace should function. So when they see you prioritizing your leadership development by seeking greater self-awareness, studying after other leaders, and deepening connections, you set the example for them to do just that.
About Michael McCathern
Micheal McCathern is an executive coach and facilitator specializing in management/leadership development and helping organizations at all levels increase their effectiveness and results while developing non-dependent, high-performance teams. Micheal brings more than 25 years of experience starting, growing, and leading companies.
Here’s one more way to up-level your leadership…
Dr. John Maxwell has been named the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association, and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazine. And he has founded Maxwell Leadership to empower passionate people to become impactful leaders and influential personal growth professionals. Learn how the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team can empower you, too.