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How to Become a Deliberate Leader

#deliberateleadership #leadership #leadershipeffectiveness Aug 09, 2022

I've been writing and speaking on the subject of #DeliberateLeadership for many years now.  Recently, I was asked to describe exactly what it is and how one sets about becoming a deliberate leader.

Deliberate leadership is thoughtful, intentional leadership.  It is conscious and purposeful.  It takes a high degree of self-awareness as well as awareness of others.   Deliberate leaders recognize the potential impact they have on other people, and they take that role seriously.  They know it is a responsibility, as well as a privilege, to lead and influence others. And they are deliberate about the example they set with their words and actions. They think about it.

The broad process of becoming a deliberate leader starts with examining your mindset.  You need to ask yourself the reasons you want to lead others.  You need to be willing to lead yourself.  When you think about leadership, what do you think about?  What comes to mind?

Maybe you think about leaders that you admire or maybe those who made the biggest impact on you personally over time.  And maybe, you didn't even recognize the impact at the time, but much later when you looked back and reflected.  Or maybe you think about the worst leaders you have had, the ones who weren't effective, the ones who didn't take the role seriously, or took themselves too seriously.  And, if you're like me and willing to admit it, you learned a lot from them too.  Maybe even more of value.

There is a big difference between leaders who choose to lead because they seek the power, and those who want to lead, lift, and develop others.  These are two distinct mindsets about leadership.  And deliberate leadership starts here. 

There are leaders who rely fully on their position, their credentials, and their title.  They use their power to get their way and often, create an environment of fear and anxiety. "It's my way or the highway" is the prevailing attitude and message.  They are focused on results, which is good, but will often take full credit when things go well and blame others when things go wrong.  They are not much interested in helping others be successful unless it serves their personal needs and agenda.  And, because they believe their style has been responsible for their success, they are not open to feedback or making changes.  When they do get feedback, they tend to discount it.

When I describe this type of leader to others, I get a lot of head nods.  We all seem to know leaders and managers who fit this description.

The other type of leader has a very different style and approach.  This person relies on the ability to connect with and influence others, while building relationships through trust.  This leader encourages others by sharing credit, responsibility, and accountability. They are quick to take ownership when things go wrong. This is the deliberate leader, who seeks input and feedback from a wide variety of individuals, valuing the differences that make them unique.  They want everyone to feel like they are contributing to team and organizational success, while developing their personal skills and abilities. 

It may seem that it takes more effort to be a deliberate leader -- and it probably does. This person thinks about leadership and how to be more effective.  This person is a learner with a growth mindset.  This person is a work in progress, who welcomes feedback, reflects on it and acts on it.  In other words, this is a leader who invests in themselves.

The deliberate leader is responsible for creating an environment of trust, where people are more likely to innovate and take risks.  Ultimately there is a lot of upside.  The leader gains, the members of the team gain, the organization gains.

Once there is clarity of mindset about leadership, and the desire to become a deliberate leader, the process becomes one of personal growth and improvement.  I've been quoted for saying that leadership development is personal development.  To be a better leader you need to become a better person. 

Think about your own experience.  When were you part of a cohesive high performing team?  How would you describe it?  How did it feel to be part of it?  How would you go about replicating that climate with your own team?

Over the years, I have helped many leaders to become more deliberate about their style and their approach.  If you are interested in learning more about your own leadership, and how it's perceived by others, and what you can do to improve it, let's talk. 


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