What if there was a way to get crystal clear leadership development insights, without all the psycho-babble?
When we’ve talked to leaders in all areas of life, we often hear them express the same frustration. “There is so much information out there on what you need to do to be a better leader – but not much that tells you what you can practically do to be a better leader today, in my particular situation and context.”.
We’ve all been to the conferences, you read the books, you get motivated and inspired – but you don’t get contextual steps for real, actionable, measurable steps to growth.
Inspiration soon turns to frustration as you try to apply the latest insights from books, podcasts and seminars to your own organization – with little success.
We get it.
We’ve been there.
The reality is, leadership development is hard. It’s complex. It requires more than just implementing the latest philosophies from pop-psychology gurus and NYT best sellers.
Leadership is about context.
Leadership is about constant evaluation and continual improvement.
Leadership is about humility, tough conversations, and a dynamic relationship with those you lead – and the ones that lead you.
In our research on how to effectively develop leaders – we’ve discovered 6 things we believe every leader must know in order to effectively develop their leadership skills.
You can listen to the conversation above from our Leadership Torque Podcast for a more detailed dive into this topic, as well as to discover how Waymaker.io might just be the solution to your leadership development problems.
But in this article, we’ll briefly touch on these must-know principles for leadership development.
1. Understand where you currently stand on your leadership journey.
The first step to growing as a leader is to get a sober and objective evaluation of how you currently fare. Blind spots are called blind spots for a reason – we can’t see them. Often our biggest blind spots as leaders come from our lack of ability to see our own fallibilities. As the poet and life coach Veronika Tugaleva rightly points out – “To know yourself, you must sacrifice the illusion that you already do.” Or, as Carl Jung puts it, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Self-awareness then, is critical in our journey toward becoming a great leader. We must be able to see gaps in our own leadership, and be able to see these objectively.
Waymaker’s new Leadership Diagnostic helps you become more self aware by visually showing you where you are on your leadership journey based on a sophisticated set of data points brought to life by dynamic feedback offered on a regular basis by you, your leaders, your peers, and those you lead.
2. Understand your character strengths and weaknesses.
Character is the set of traits that represent our beliefs, values & morals. Understanding your character traits and how they differ from personality traits for example, is a critical piece of the leadership puzzle.
Waymaker identifies strengths for example across 8 different character traits – as assessed by yourself, your team, your leaders and your peers using Waymaker’s intelligent insights platform.
The eight character traits we assess are:
- Integrity – Honesty & sincerity in the daily behaviours that are WYSIWYG.
- Humility – The willingness to hire smarter people than yourself and them empower them to do great work.
- Goodness – Leading through values with the right level of patience and generosity towards staff for mistakes, failures and life stresses that are not due to an unwillingness to learn.
- Humour – Having a sense of humour (which may or may not be natural talent) and bring a sense of light-heartedness & joy toward daily operations of the team.
- Empathy – Demonstrated understanding the shared feelings and values with staff and customers.
- Boldness – Knowing how and when to speak truth to power and be willing to listen to those who speak truth to your power.
- Courage – Taking calculated risks in the face of abnormal fear and being able to bring others with you in those actions.
- Authenticity – Being able sit with staff at a lunch or coffee shop and ‘meet them where they are at’ – but still remain the boss.
3. Understand your personality strengths and weaknesses.
Personality is the set of traits that represent how we naturally think, feel, and behave.
Personality is different from character. Character is the set of traits that represent beliefs, values & morality.
For example, integrity is a key character trait. Your personality does not define your integrity. Any mix of personalities can be highly integrous or not.
Personality is a prism through which to understand an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours against a broader population. The presumption is, if we can understand how each of us think, feel, and behave in different ways we can;
a. Learn to work together and get along with each with less conflict.
b. Learn to play to our strengths and leverage what we are naturally good at
c. Learn to identify any weaknesses and work to resolve these
Often what defines strengths and weaknesses of personality is context.
A highly emotionally unstable (neurotic) individual may be seen as having a weakness in the role of Air Traffic Controller, while that same personality trait may be seen as a strength in artistic endeavors such as poetry or songwriting.
In Waymaker’s Leadership Diagnostic, we asses an individual’s personality and surface their current top five personality traits.
Seeing these traits can help build a picture of why you might behave in certain way and what you can do to develop that.
4. Know where you need to focus to grow.
Focus is about setting goals around the things that will most effectively develop you as a leader. Once we bome aware of our gaps or blind spots, we set goals to help us change behaviour. These goals should be practical, measurable and achievable.
Setting personal goals drives personal success.
It can bcome really hard to find satisfaction as a leader when you don’t feel like you’re growing and working toward a purpose. When you set goals based around your identified areas of growth, you not only give yourself the best opportunity for leadership defvelopment, but you also reward yourself with something to accomplish. The result is more inspired leadership, and a happier, healthier and more productive work environment.
Identifying which areas of your leadership you need to focus on first will deliver faster, more observable changes in your leadership and how that positively effects the dynamics of your team.
5. Understand how your peers, team, leaders, and mentors see your leadership.
As we talked about earlier, blind spots can be a real problem in leadership development. Here’s one example of a story told by one of our Waymaker Partners.
“Bill is a line manager in a manufacturing plant. He’s part of his organization’s leadership development program. He took Waymaker’s Leadership Diagnostic and answered the questions along with his peers, his direct reports, and the leaders he reports to. So we had a 360 degree set of data sitting there. What’s interesting is that, we could see that Bill thought very highly of his own leadership skills, systems and character traits, and has a lot of very powerful personality traits. We could also see that his direct leader, the person he reports to, although not as strong as Bill – still saw a lot of great strengths in Bill. But what we also saw was that his team had a very different view Bill. Now, that often happens in a 360-degree review, you see gaps – and that’s important. What’s important though is to understand the gaps from different perspectives. Because Waymaker also identifies personality traits and character traits, we could start to see that some of Bill’s character traits, such as courage, empathy, authenticity – were actually rated really quite low from his team. And we could see that in his personality traits, his self confidence can also exhibit other certain traits that are emotionally unstable. He wasn’t always consistent in what he did. And we can see, we can see that his team were experiencing that as a lack of authenticity.
What we could identify was that he was more measured and controlled in front of his bosses. He just lacked the ability to be real and authentic in front of his team. He was trying to be somebody he’s not. And that was creating volatility.
We were able to sit with Bill and show him some objective data and help him realise his blind spots. Then Bill set some goals. And here’s the crazy thing we saw. We saw Bill’s character traits around authenticity and courage lifted and grew from the perspective of his team. They could see that Bill was actually making the effort be more authentic, acknowledging that he needed to equip and empower, you can see that change from the team’s perspective.
Now he’s executed on those and he’s seen a real actionable demonstrable return and change in those leadership aspects. And so it truly is four-dimensional, measurable over time.
Bill was able to identify and fill gaps in his leadership by observing honest, objective and measurable data through the Leadership Diagnostic.
6. Understand how all these things can change over time.
The final piece of the puzzle is to be able to observe changes over time, allowing you to see positive progress and recalibrate if required. In today’s world, you can pick up your iPhone or your Smart Watch and you can get your health data. And you can track your steps, you can track your heart rate, you can do a workout, you can get information that recalibrates you back to a healthy lifestyle.
We live in this amazing data driven world. Why can’t we track leadership development? Up until now, tracking leadership development did not exist! It does now!
We can offer the latest datasets to improve our leadership development.
And the magic happens not when you take a diagnostic for the first time, but the second and the third time and so on. Over a period of time, you can analyze the data and respond as observations about your leadership are made. As the organization changes and you are able to make informed, objective changes to your leadership based on the data you are observing.
That’s powerful, and that’s important. If we really care about leaders, then we will really care about the data we provide them, to help them become better leaders. And that’s our mission at Waymaker. That’s our purpose. We will help you build a better business, we will help you build a better leader.
And as we all know, everybody wins when a leader gets better.
So how does Waymaker.io help develop your leadership in all these areas?
We’ve taken the same technology we used to build the Waymaker Leadership Curve for sales, marketing, vision, strategy or business model and we applied that to leadership development. It’s for any leader in your organization to see the practical steps that you take from the beginning of your Leadership Journey, all the way up to the world-changing, Winston Churchill, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos kind of territory.
And, not only that, we share what you actually have to know and do to get better.
If you want to become a better leader in whatever context you’re in, you’ve now got a way to do that, with a practical and achievable set of steps to follow.
To get started on your leadership growth journey, sign up for a free trial of Waymaker today!
A full transcript of the latest podcast is available here.
Craig Hindman 0:01 Welcome to Leadership Torque, the official Waymaker podcast, the place for conversations about leadership, strategy and technology that helped make business improvement. Business as usual. Welcome to Leadership Torque, the official Waymaker podcast I’m your host, Craig Hindman with me as usual, is CEO and founder of Waymaker Stuart Leo. Stu, how are you? Stuart Leo 0:32 Very good. Craig is pleasure to be back in the chair. talking all things Waymaker. In ah, we had a break we’ve had we’ve had a few weeks away. Yeah. Well, I mean, you’d like to say that we took a summer break a US summer break, even though we’re in Australia, but any excuse for a holiday, but you actually went to America for summer break. Craig Hindman 0:53 That that is true, not for holiday. Stuart Leo 0:54 Just… thought I’d better… No all for work. And we did we took a break for the podcast over the the the northern hemisphere summer. It’s always summer somewhere. And in that downtime, I was in the US meeting partners, speak speaking at some some conferences, meeting people doing all those fun things. But we were still very busy and very hard at work on some very exciting things. Craig Hindman 1:25 We were working hard. Stu Waymaker is all about identifying gaps and finding solutions. And we think that we’ve identified a gap, that we’ve got a solution that we’re pretty excited about. Stuart Leo 1:37 Yeah, that’s right. Well, I mean, Waymaker exists to help leaders build a better business. That’s the big idea. And we help people find their strategy, and then execute their strategy, so that it’s a more intelligent, smarter, more effective business. But we also know that to build a better business, you’ve got to build better leaders. And and when we go out, and we talk to leaders, we hear some frustrations. We hear some frustrations and pains around leadership tools and development tools. And you know, how, how do we take all this information, the firehose of information that’s out there, and actually translate that into practical steps to build better leaders in my organization. And there’s not much out there that really does that. That that takes all the big ideas and tells you how to be a better leader today, contextually in my world, how do I translate that into my world? And so you can go to the conferences, you can read the books, you get motivated to get inspired. And they’re all wonderful things not not dissing those at all. But they don’t give you those contextual steps. You know, the so what so what do I do right now, in my business based on my circumstances, that’s the hard bit. So that’s actually the really hard bit. Like, yeah, we feel it done really well, like you and I feel it. Well, yeah. So I mean, you hear other people talk, you hear other leaders talk about it all the time, and just going oh, yeah, I can, I can totally relate. But and, and I mean, even our own leadership development, with all the tools that we have at our disposal was just like, oh, yeah, there’s still there is still a gap here. In fact, it’s the hardest gap to close, because you’ve got to gotta close the world. What’s the smart thing to do? What’s the smart thing to do? In my context, in my world, and one smart thing to do, that will actually help my team or that might help my leaders or will actually work inside my organization, my world. That’s, that’s, that’s hard to close that gap. Because you got to have some intel, you have some intelligence, you’ve got to get some tools to extract that data out. And well, it just so happens that we have some of those. Craig Hindman 3:52 Well, I mean, that’s a bit of an aha moment for us, right? It’s, it’s kind of like, well, we actually have this technology that we’ve developed to help identify gaps in business. And in order to develop to have successful businesses, we need to develop great leaders. And we’ve got some amazing leadership tools in our swag, that we haven’t used that one, before. Swag! Stuart Leo 4:11 That’s a good, a good Aussie term right there. Craig Hindman 4:16 So how do we apply that? You know, we we ask the question, how can we apply this technology to effective leadership development? Stuart Leo 4:27 We did. So you know what we did? Listeners do you want to know what we did? So we develop the world’s most practical, actionable, measurable leadership engine. Craig Hindman 4:40 What does that mean? Stuart Leo 4:42 Yeah, it’s, um, it means we took the technology that builds a Waymaker leadership curve, whether it be in sales or marketing or vision or strategy or business model and,and we took that and we built one for the human for the leadership developer, but for the leader in your organization, to show what are the practical steps that you take from first steps as a leader, all the way up to kind of world changing, Winston Churchill, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos kind of territory. And, and that and we and we share that pathway, we share what do I actually have to know and do and do. So I need to know these skills, need to know these steps, that’s, that’s all part of the solution. And what people love about Waymaker is the practical way to make your vision a reality. If I want to build a better sales team, I’ve got a way to do that there’s a set of steps to follow. We brought that same intelligence across into leadership development. So not only are there you know, what we would say, potentially 30 big steps that you need to take. But which ones do I need to take, in my context, in my business, in my world, with my team, to actually improve my leadership and grow my business? Through better leadership? Does that make sense? Craig Hindman 6:28 Yeah, so what sort of things do we evaluate and analyze? Stuart Leo 6:32 Well, on the leadership curve, we talk about skills that that will grow your leadership. In fact, if I take a step back, I should put it in this context. The we talked about six C’s, so the six C’s are of winemakers, leadership, diagnostic and pathway, a context. So context is important because you could be a young supervisor on the manufacturing line. And you’re actually taking the same diagnostic and looking at the same path pathway as a CEO of a Fortune 500. Company. How does that work? That’s a bit weird. Well, we’ll explain that too. But the context is, where am I at? What is my situation? What context Am I in? And so that’s important. So context, context is king here. The next thing we look at is what we call competencies, or skills. So what are the things I need to know how to do? Then we look at capabilities? What are the practices or processes or systems that I need to put in to myself and into my leadership? We look at character. So what are the character traits that I need to develop to improve my leadership? We look at charisma, which is another way of saying personality. So we look at your core personality traits, and what strengths are emerging out of those personality traits. And lastly, we ask the question of commitment. So what am I going to do about these gaps that have that I’ve identified, and you can start to develop your goals and commit to goals and outcomes that will shift the needle on your leadership on your business on your team in order to grow? So context, competencies, capabilities, character charisma, and then commitments, and they’re the broad areas we look at. But if we look at the leadership curve, for example, we’re looking at skills in the area of competencies around listening ideation, team building, stress management, negotiation, conflict resolution, some of the systems and things we look at a time management, knowledge management, health and fitness, talent, acquisition, empowerment, equipping, financial management, operating processes, cultural development. These are all the best practice principles, that doesn’t matter whether you’re building a business of three people, or 300,000 people, you will need to build these competencies and capabilities into your leadership. Does that make sense? Craig Hindman 9:18 So why can’t I just get this? If I just sit down and do a one off StrengthsFinder test for example, why can’t I… why doesn’t that help? Stuart Leo 9:26 Yeah, that’s that’s a really good comment. Because I mean, we’ve taken I’ve taken a bunch of these things in the past and I know you have I’ve been ENTJ’d out of this world of StrengthFinder’ed out of this world of being DISC’d out of this world. Craig Hindman 9:42 Enneagrammed! Stuart Leo 9:43 Yes, you know, and look, I want to kind of acknowledge the grandfathers in the room and stand on the shoulders of giants. I kind of also want to acknowledge the grandfathers in the room. You know, there’s some real problems in some of those approaches. We’re talking about leadership development. And we live in a dynamic, agile data driven world where I need to get continuous loop feedback to guide agile and adaptive responses. And taking the StrengthsFinder, once every three or five years is like saying, I’m going to sell my boat from here to America, and I’m going to check my compass once, you know, it’s just stupid, it’s insane. You do not get enough data points, you do not get the intelligence to make correct actionable decisions. And whilst there’s some useful information in those things, they’re not designed to run on continuous loop improvements. They’re designed to take once make the user feel good, and maybe take some actionable steps. And then they’re kind of too hard and clunky to take again. And that’s part of the problem we we set out to solve. How can you design something that gives you actionable insights really practical, really helpful today in my situation, but I can retake and have that data compound and add value in 30 days, or 90 days or 190 days, and actually see the data connected in my workplace in my situation, that’s the power of the adaptive strategic cloud with built and using that data set over time. Craig Hindman 11:23 I love the example that you give her the chicken the compass, like we can, like, sure we’re heading north when we first started. Stuart Leo 11:30 That’s right. Yeah, I mean, I’m sitting in my office and God took a StrengthsFinder like four years ago, oh, my god, cool would say, yet said this. Just taken one now, like says something completely different? Yeah. Because there’s been a lot of water under the boat between now and then. And you’re probably flexing different strength muscles, and you’re probably in different situation. And you’re probably in a different company or a different business with a different team doing different things. Yeah. So that’s not surprising that you’re using different strengths. But how do you put those two things together? Well, that’s like to flex saying, I’ve got a data point on this side of the world have a data point on that side of the world. But I’ve got no data points that told me how I went from here to there. Therefore, I’ve got no actionable intelligence to actually build and compound. You’ll know the power of compounding, compounding that knowledge base of leadership insights, that’s what’s been missing from the world. Craig Hindman 12:24 And I think that the two real magic bullets here is is contextual, being contextual, but also tracking over time. Yeah. So which, which is where the real value of this diagnostic comes in. I wonder if you could give us like a real world story of how a tool like this could really bring value to an organization and a leader? Stuart Leo 12:50 Yeah, I might use a real life use case, but I’m going to change names. Bill from some, you know, I’m gonna think of a situation. Let’s, let’s, let’s call him, let’s call him Bill, because … Bill. Bill’s a line manager in a manufacturing plant. In, in North America, and he’s taken, he’s the diagnosee, we’ll call the diagnosee. He’s part of the his organization’s leadership development program. He’s taken his his diagnostic unanswered questions and been through the process and his team have done that. Some of his peers have done that, and his leaders that people who report to have done that. So he’s, there’s a 360 degree set of data sitting. What’s interesting is that, we can see that Bill thinks very highly of his leadership skills and systems and character traits, and has a lot of certain very powerful personality traits. And we can actually see that his direct leader, the person he reports into, although not as strong as Bill still still sees bill with a lot of great strengths. And approaching that maturity on our leadership curve, we would say lots of green, not much, not much yellow or red. And that’s the color coded on the the activities, the skills and systems that we track. But what we also see is that his team have a very different view of what’s going on right now. And so, so that’s I mean, that’s not rocket science. That often happens in 360 degree reviews, you see gaps and that’s important. The different lenses that the the capacity to filter. The data set is important. You can look you can look at the latest Should context through different lenses. And that’s really important because a different lens will bring about a different perception and a different view of what’s going on. Or they say in, in one argument between two people, there’s often three viewpoints. And the truth probably sits somewhere in the middle of all of that. So what’s important is to understand the gaps is to see the differences. But because we also pick up personality traits and character traits, what’s fascinating is, we can start to see that some of some of Bill’s character traits, such as courage, empathy, authenticity, actually, really quite low from his team. And we can see that in his personality traits, he’s quite so confident, self confident, but also exhibit certain traits that are emotionally unstable. So at times is is not always consistent in what he does. And we can see, we can see that his team are experiencing that as a lack of authenticity. There’s a lack of empathy, a lack of stability. And we can see that potentially, and we’re starting to make assumptions now as we interpret the data. And that’s important. But we can see potentially that he’s more measured and controlled in front of his, the people he reports to, yeah. But he lacks the ability to be his authentic real self in front of his team. He’s trying to be somebody he’s not. And that’s creating volatility. And so what we’re starting to see now is the setup for a great coaching conversation. We’re not saying is that he’s not saying is that rather, we’re seeing data points emerge here, that stumped the question why, yeah, why, why. And so as a coach or a facilitator, sitting down and looking at the data points, we can start to ask questions around the around the lenses around the data points. And the cool thing is, Bill can start to become self aware of where those gaps are, between those different relationships that he’s he’s working with on a daily basis. So the use case would go on now. And Bill would set some goals. And Bill did set some goals. And he’ll set some goals around, bringing clarity to daily stand ups, putting them in place and keeping them regular, not just during I’m running late today, I’m not going to have it, put some outcomes in place around clear instructions and training team members and actually putting team members through training processes. And here’s the crazy thing we saw. We saw Bill’s character traits around authenticity and courage and those those character traits that they lifted and grew from the perspective of his team, they could see that bill was actually making the effort be more authentic, acknowledging that he needed to equip and empower, you can see that change from the team’s perspective. You could see it. And so going up, you could see it in the neck, this is in the next set of results. You could see it coming down in his own views, and recalibrating around. Craig Hindman 18:49 So humility is going up! Stuart Leo 18:50 Yeah. And we can see his leader actually maintaining some balance around what’s going on. And so what’s happening on the ground is that Bill has become aware of how he’s acting differently to different personas in the workplace, is put in place some practical actions, this ain’t rocket science, but it is a science. He’s executed on those and he’s seen a real actionable demonstrable return and change in those leadership aspects. And so it’s it truly is my team hate this when I say this, it truly is four dimensional, multiple dimensions going on over time. You know, it’s and and now Bill set up, going okay have have recalibrated my core foundations have aligned my team have aligned myself back to my team have acknowledged some of the gaps in my own leadership. They’ve acknowledged that I’ve started to close them. And now we’ve got the foundation to start working on higher value leadership activities. And yeah, that’s awesome. And so that’s the use case. Craig Hindman 20:00 That’s a great example. And it would take the heat out of a out of a, a tough conversation as well, from a, from a management perspective as well, right? Because you can get some objectivity around it? Stuart Leo 20:11 True, that is so true. And that’s, that’s one of the hardest things we all face, whether we’re conducting a one on one, or whether we’re participating in a one on one. We always feel like, you know, we’re getting judged, or in front of in front of the judge, and you’re judging me? Well, we’ve got to maintain an open mind, we’re not judging you. We’re judging, or the diagnostic is developing third party objective data to judge the leadership context. That’s important. It’s, it’s like a football player on the football field, who says, Hey, I didn’t pass Well, I didn’t play well. I didn’t respond. Well, when the referee gave me a yellow card. Talking about real football soccer here for my North American friends. I didn’t exhibit the right skills and character traits and personality there. I’m going to change those things. That doesn’t mean, you know, I’m bad. No, I behaved badly. Now, I’m going to affect a change in my behavior. That makes sense. Craig Hindman 21:29 Yeah, it’s awesome. So it’s really, it’s really a tool, not just for me to evaluate my own leadership, but a really great tool for CEOs, high level managers, that type of thing to develop leaders below them. Correct! Yeah, yeah, it’s and it’s a it’s a common language. It’s a common data set. It’s a it’s a compound in and value adding dataset. And it’s complimentary to your strategic execution. So it doesn’t have to dynamic over time. Correct. I mean, that’s, this is the crazy thing, then. And this is the gap we saw, you know, nobody, nobody is providing adaptive dynamic data over time to show you how to respond over time to build that case with you to give, you can give it on your phone. You know, in today’s world, you can pick up your iPhone or your smartphone and you can get your health data. And you can you can check your steps, you can check your heart rate, you can do a workout, you can get information that recalibrates you back to a healthy lifestyle. We live in this amazing data driven world, like leadership is the most critical human development thing you need to do in your business. Why can’t we have that in our leadership development? It does not exist? Well, it doesn’t it does now. That was that’s the thing, you know, why can’t we have the latest datasets to improve our leadership development, that’s powerful, that’s important. That’s if we really care about leaders, then we will really care about the data we provide them, to help them be better leaders. And that’s our mission. That’s our purpose. We will help you build a better business, we will help you build a better leader. And as we all know, everybody wins when a leader gets better. That’s not my saying somebody else’s. But it’s so true. And this is how you do it. Yeah, Stu people can obviously jump on Waymaker.io and sign up for a free trial and actually get stuck into the leadership diagnostic straight away. The magic is if they do it a second and the third time, and fourth and fifth and perpetually, over a period of time to actually be able to analyze that data and identify as changes are made in the organization as I make changes to my own leadership in response to the information that I get feedback. Stuart Leo 23:52 Yeah, that’s right. I get inspired because you are improving. There’s there’s nothing like you know, entering into a healthcare and actually saying, You won’t go down your strength go up your distance and your speed improve. You know, this is what we’re this is the information and the insight and the encouragement and the empowerment we want to give you as a leader you can see your skills, improve your character, improve your personalities, strengthen traits, strengthen your skills, improve in your practices improve and you can proactively plan for improved leadership and better roles, better career development. Craig Hindman 24:32 Great so this is all about how to make leadership development. Business as usual. Stuart Leo 24:39 Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well does it?! Nah it absolutely is because leadership is one of the core pillars of how you make business improvement business as usual.