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No matter how great leaders think they are, they simply can't be a leader alone. In other words, it requires others to shape the circumstances and context that define leadership.
A person who thinks they lead without the support of others is a leader in a vacuum.
Anyone can bark orders and declare himself a leader, right? But we all know the person giving orders isn't always an effective leader.
So how can you become a better leader within your team and circumstances?
One way to become a more effective team leader is to:
1) Know yourself
2) Know the people you work with
3) Based on those two answers, you can discuss ways as a group to work with and maximize everyone's functional strengths and complementary personality traits.
To accomplish this, I suggest a hosting a facilitated personality profile exercise. You're probably familiar with these sorts of things - Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DISC Personality Profiles, StrengthsFinder, and Enneagram Personality System.
Each of these measures and defines a person's personality type, then examines ways to leverage each style to more effectively collaborate with other personalities and functional strengths.
Through these exercises and discussions, team members learn about their similarities and differences such as extroversion versus introversion, detail orientation versus big-picture thinking, decision-making based on facts versus intuition, creative versus empirical thinking, list-making versus winging it …
The real progress happens when groups openly share individual results as they relate to others. Having a trained professional facilitate these discussions helps because they can interject background and research behind the personality data, as well as best practices to work within and across the range of measured personality types.
But a word of caution: For these discussions to be effective and meaningful, it's critical, as always, to be honest with yourself, then honest with others.
Introspection and being honestly self-aware is not always easy or comfortable. You may discover or get feedback that doesn't exactly match what you think or want for yourself. In such circumstances, having an open-mind and good facilitator will help.
Which profile exercise is best?
I personally believe the type of measurement is less important than the ensuing discussion. Understanding and sharing individual results with corresponding considerations for optimal team performance is the end goal. MBTI, DISC, StrengthsFinder and a few other researched exercises are generally designed with these goals in mind.
Where do you find a qualified local facilitator? I'd start by contacting your local chamber of commerce and see who they would recommend for team building and leadership development.
Prices will vary depending on the facilitator, instrument, number of participants and the length of time you want to dedicate to this endeavor.
If you've never done this activity with your colleagues and teams - or at least not in a while - let me suggest you make this a goal for 2015. Great things can happen when you know yourselves, know your colleagues and learn best practices for leading and working effectively as a team.
It's a terrific way to kick off the new year.
' Alex Taylor is associate director at the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management, email@example.com. Twitter handle: @ataylorataylor