Need To Do More With Less – Part 4: Be The Best Leader That You Can Be
24th February 2010
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The big question over leadership is “Can anyone be a great leader?  Can you be a great leader? A Winston Churchill or a Nelson Mandela?

May be not, but can you develop excellent leadership skills?

For sure, if you want to; pretty much anyone can.  Excellent leadership is not about being born to it, it is a skill set that can be developed. So, what do you get when you develop and practice leadership excellence?  People that become High Performing Teams. A business that can out perform its rivals. Plus the bonus: a more enjoyable and satisfying work experience. It is really down to you.

Kouzes and Posner studied hundreds of companies to work out what made the difference between success and mediocrity or even failure. They found 5 key practices of excellent leadership and that where there was leadership excellence a company would seriously out perform its rivals. The articles in this series provide a simple diagnostic based on the work of Kouzes and Posner, that is designed to help you take the measure of your leadership skills. It looks at your leadership skills thorugh the prism of how your team behave.

In the first part of this article we looked at

  • How Your business works
  • Being a Role Model
  • Inspiring your people

In this part we will look at

  • Challenging for improvement
  • Enabling the team
  • Encouraging the people

For each of these questions score your answer on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is low and 5 is high.


Leaders innovate to improve the organisation and its capabilities and they encourage others to do same.

  • Do you your people continually seek better ways of doing things or do they only do things the way that they have always been done?
  • Do your people show initiative and push on the boundaries to be more successful or are they risk averse?
  • Do your people demonstrate the ability to learn from mistakes and adapt what they do accordingly?


Leaders empower their people, encourage collaboration and build spirited teams to achieve extraordinary results, based on mutual respect and trust.

  • Do your people collaborate, working together to achieve goals or do they tend to work against each other?
  • Do your people feel confident that you will support their decisions or are they fearful that you would overrule them?
  • Do your people go from strength to strength in their jobs or do they seem to stagnate?


Leaders spur on their people to greater achievement by recognising and celebrating the contribution of individuals.

  • When you speak with your people do they respond as if encouraged and engage with their tasks more enthusiastically or do they seem demotivated?
  • Do your people feel both recognised and rewarded for their achievement or do they grumble about not being appreciated?
  • Do your people feel recognised and rewarded for their commitment, even if things have gone wrong?

How did you do? Top score for all the questions in both parts of the article is 100. Is any one area weaker than the others?

What You Can Do Today

Take a little longer over this for a more considered view. You can down load a pdf version of the “Leadership: How Good Are You?” self-check audit 

This survey looks at the behaviour of your team as a reflection your skills as a leader. Having considered the results take half an hour out with a cup of coffee and sketch out an action plan for your leadership approach to deal with any weaknesses that you found. Its not necessarily costly to fix these things but the benefits can be huge.

Whilst there may be people who are born to be charismatic leaders it has to be said that leadership skills can be taught, learned and honed through practice and coaching. It is possible for “ordinary” leaders to become exemplary leaders.

The Creative Leader Bulletin is a free resource for business and Third Sector leaders. It is currently running a series called The Spirited Team. Along with other “Need To Do More”  postings in this blog concerning the character of High Performing Teams. It may give you some ideas for developing your leadership skills.

If you want a more objective view of your capabilities as a leader the Leadership Practices Inventory is a 360 Degree Assessment based on Kouzes and Posner’s 5 leadership practices. You will need help to run this and interpret its results.

Ponder and Comment

Ordinary leadership gets ordinary results. Great leadership gets great results. Its not that difficult to develop the traits of great leadership.

What is your view? Does this make sense or is it all mumbo-jumbo?

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