How to define ourself as a leader

We have talked about leader and leadership before, for example, my favourite book review and notes on leadership “Start with Why by Simon Sinek“, “Principle by Ray Dalio“, “Leading Beyond Ego by John Knight,” and “The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey“.

So today lets discuss further on how to define ourselves as a leader.

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Defining our leadership

A successful leader knows where they’re going and why. We need to define our purpose, vision and values to guide our leadership journey.

Who we are as a leader?

A leader can easily get caught up in moment-to-moment demands. Moment-to-moment demands of troubleshooting problem, conflict resolving, and coaching.

Unless we take the time to really who we are and what matters most to us, we’re likely to react to issues reactively, not in a thoughtful way. This could also lead to a lack of meaning in our work life, working towards goals that others set, not the one that means the most to us.

When we define our purpose, vision and values, we articulate a set of principles which focus our efforts and act as a guiding light in decision-making choices we made, on how we interact with others and enable us to work toward meaningful objectives. On top of that, beware of hidden traps in decision making.

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Purpose, Vision and Values

Think of purpose, vision, and values as the why, what, and how of what you do in your role. Together, they provide a cohesive way for us to think about ourselves as a leader.

ToolWhat it isTimeframe
Purpose or missionThe cores of your identity and unifies your pursuits to date:
✔ Who you are and what makes you distinctive what strengths and passions you bring to your job
✔ Why you’re driven to achieve your goals
✔ Is not: A list of your education, experience, or skills
Reviewed periodically to ensure alignment with what’s important to you
VisionA compelling image of an achievable future:
✔ What you want to accomplish in your work and life
✔ What kind of leader you want to be
✔ What matters most to you
✔ How you want to stretch as a person and leader
Updated over time as you accomplish short-term goals and add new ones
ValuesA compass that guides how you pursue your goals:
✔ How you carry out your work
✔ What you believe about right and wrong
✔ What standards you use for assessing decisions
Fairly stable over time

Ray Dalio suggests that we keep a record on our leadership principles and make them visible to others which can instil a sense of confidence in our abilities. People know what to expect from you and what you can expect from them in return.

Through our words and actions, we can set the tone for our team, and create a positive productive environment.

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Articulate our purpose

Many organizations have a strongly articulated purpose or mission, statement that summarizes the “why” and “what” a company stands for. These statements guide strategic decision making and differentiate a company from others.

For the same reason, we should know our own purpose.

When we spend time reflecting on what drives us and why, we will have a better understanding of the unique contributions we make to our team, our organization, and the world. Having a clear sense of purpose can make the difference between going through the motions at work and passionately pursuing results we care about.

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How can we articulate our purpose?

(1) Reflect on meaningful events in our life. 

  • What did you love doing as a child?
  • What challenges have you grappled with and how have they shaped you?
  • What pursuits energize and fulfil you?
  • What unifies all of these experiences?

(2) Craft a clear, concise purpose statement. 

Use your own words to capture the essence of who you are and are energizing.

Here are two models you can follow:

My leadership purpose is… This statement should be short and crisp.

The value you create + who you’re creating it for + the expected outcome. 

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(4) Identify ways to live your purpose. 

As you go through your workday, make sure most of your tasks connect with or advance your purpose in some way.

(5) Periodically revisit your purpose statement

To keep it relevant and fresh, based on new experiences and insights.

Personal Leadership Vision

A personal leadership vision has four key components:

  • A future orientation. 
    You should focus on a short enough timeframe that you can imagine the actions necessary to make it happen.
  • A compelling story. 
    It should appeal to your head and heart.
  • A vivid image. 
    It should be easy to visualize and remember.
  • An achievable stretch goal. 
    It should be challenging but not impossible to reach through persistence and with the support of others.

Make sure that our personal vision represents something we truly want.

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How to draft our personal leadership vision:

(1) Think about the future. 

Consider questions such as:

  • What does my organization need from me? My team? My peers?
  • If my team could accomplish anything over the next few years, what would I want it to be?
  • At the end of my career, how do I want people to think of me?
  • At the end of my life, what will I regret not doing, seeing, or achieving?

(2) Compose a draft of your vision

How you want to be as a leader and what you want to accomplish in the next five to 10 years. Write your vision in the first person, and as if the events that you are describing are already happening.

(3) Share a one-minute version with others. 

The process of saying your vision out loud should bring a sense of excitement and potential.

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(4) Revise your draft to ensure that it’s both really true and truly inspiring

Truly inspiring to yourself, most importantly.

(5) Take steps to make this vision a reality. 

Do you need to build your skills in certain areas?

Research a new business opportunity that you can propose to senior leaders?

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Personal Core Value

Our core values are the principles and standards of behaviour we aspire to uphold as we pursue our goals. For me, that would be CLIP. Cohesiveness – Loyalty – Integrity – Professionalism.

Minimally, core values should be able to do the following:

  • Are not universal rules but are guidelines that you freely choose
  • Persist over time
  • Serve to guide, not constrain, your actions
  • Are active, not static
  • Allow you to get closer to how you want to live
  • Free you from comparing yourself to others
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Always act in ways that are consistent with our values.

Make a simple list of the 6-8 values that matter most to you. which value is central to your life.

Listing your values in this way can strengthen your leadership skills, reduce stress and make us more open to different positions and opinions. Hence, when we recognize what we truly care about, we can let go of things that aren’t important to us.

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Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

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