"I want to be a leader (or a manager). I've been working at this company for ages and just can't get a promotion I deserve. I know I have what it takes to manage teams and make this company money." These are the types of statements I hear and read frequently from the prospective clients. The frustration can take over and cloud your judgment, preventing you from finding the most effective way to get to the next step.
Depending on the individual's career history, I ask: "What is your personal leadership statement?" In other words, I want to understand a person's leadership vision, beliefs, goals, and approaches? What truly makes them stand out from the crowd filled with so much talent who has proven that leadership doesn't have to be formal.
Start building or improving your leadership skills before you get a title you believe that you deserve.
An informal leader can mobilize forces into action by using their personal and professional skills to motivate and influence others to work towards a common goal. I would argue that the leadership journey starts with the informal abilities and extensive learning of different styles and leadership models. This knowledge and action will become evident and your world will see you as a leader.
The important point that you can't miss is building the world of people who can help and notice your efforts. The world filled with inspirational people, who can teach you and support you. The promotion will come your way, if you are clear (internally and externally) that you are the agent of change who can communicate the vision and deliver tangible results.
How to build your personal leadership statement?
What potentially can work for many individuals who are passionate about the idea of becoming a manager or a leader is to start with the basic knowledge of leadership principles or models. This applies to individual contributors, entrepreneurs, or even some of the current managers who are looking to get promoted to more senior roles. Read books on leadership, learn what experienced leaders are recommending, take classes, ask your employer if there is a leadership training program you can join at work, etc. Take charge of your own learning and don't stop. It is a lifelong commitment, but you have to start somewhere.
Take an inventory of your achievements and successes. What is your story to date? I've recently written an article about building your success story. You can check it out here. Then, take a leadership orientation assessment to learn about your preferences and philosophies that you are inclined to employ. What are your strengths and what else can you add to your knowledge?
Note: There are many free and fee-based resources you can find online. If you are working with a coach or a mentor, they will most likely recommend at least one of the assessments that suits your specific situation best.
Next, develop your personal statement. Start with answering the below questions and see where they lead you in your self-discovery.
1. What is the purpose of leadership?
2. What is your leadership vision?
3. What goals are you striving or aspiring to accomplish when leading people?
4. What leadership styles and models mostly resonate with you?
5. Do you know when to apply each style best?
6. What do you believe the most successful leadership approach is in any given situation?
7. How will you influence people if given this important opportunity?
Here is an excerpt from my personal leadership statement.
In the last two decades of my career, I took on formal and informal leadership roles and helped the companies set and communicate vision and build cohesive and committed teams who were inspired to meet the most challenging goals.
As my leadership orientations are primarily symbolic and political, I believe that providing vision and inspiration by telling stories and connecting to people through relatable experiences is essential to get individuals motivated to achieve what they might think is tough or impossible (Bolman & Deal, 1988). I also believe that as a leader, I advocate for the right goals and am willing to address conflicting priorities and situations to meet the objectives.
I believe in the importance of being confident in my abilities to set the direction and communicate it persuasively. During the times of doubt or stagnation, employees need to be motivated and reassured that the set goals are the right ones for the organization to thrive, and in return for the efforts, employees will be rewarded. Path-goal theory of leadership resonates with me, as I am convinced that employees are motivated to work towards reaching goals when they believe that their efforts will lead to high levels of performance which will be rewarded with something of value to them.
I ensure to first understand the strengths, motivational levels of my employees, and the overall situation I have to manage and then, adapt the appropriate style to influence teams. These styles are directive, supportive, participatory, or achievement oriented.
I strive to be a transformational leader, and based on the contemporary model of transformational leadership, I use my ability to influence people to meet goals by demonstrating the behaviors of integrity and trust and persuasive communication skills to inspire people to be confident and committed to the organizational vision and goals.
When leading projects, I ensure that everyone on the team is aware of their roles and responsibilities and completion deadlines. When goals are clear and all the ambiguity is removed, then people can be held accountable for their efforts and coached when needed. In addition to clear expectations, my goal is to ensure that I build appropriate relationships with all the members to increase my influence.
Leader-member exchange (LMX) theory points out that high-quality LMX relationships lead to trustworthy and respectful relationships between the leader and the team member forms a trust-based relationship with the member. When trust and likability are present, then all involved in the project will go above and beyond their duties to get a project completed on time and with quality. My human resource orientation score is high, so another extremely important goal to me as a leader is to facilitate an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and addressing problems when they see them.
I believe in authentic leadership and continue to develop self-awareness which helps me with continuously reflecting and learning from the actions I take in life. Everything I do at this point in my career is driven by my personal core values which are integrity, honesty, and family. It is important that the decisions I make are ethical and I encourage my teams to act ethically too (Kay, 2016). Every human has something to contribute, so it is vital that when working in the team environment, employees are respectful towards each other and are given an opportunity to utilize their talents.
There is no one right or wrong method to lead a team. The most effective approach for leading is being flexible when selecting approaches and applying them depending on the situation. The most effective approach that worked for me was situational leadership, the model that argues that leaders need to use different styles depending on the member’s development levels – competence and commitment.
There is no leader without a follower. A follower who trusts a leader without being forced to put the efforts forth will be inspired and motivated to reach the most challenging goals.
In closing, whether you are new or an experienced leader, developing and refining your personal leadership statement will be a catalyst to gaining more knowledge about you and bring a more focused approach to getting the promotion you desire.
Please reach out to us if you need help developing your personal leadership statement. Contact us by booking a free consultation.