It started by mistake. As I pondered the topic for this newsletter, I picked up the kaleidoscope on my desk. It sits there to remind me to always see other perspectives. By mistake, I stared through the wrong end. Have you ever looked at the back end of a kaleidoscope? There is no swirl of color or dynamic image. Instead, you only see small fragments of colored bits.
The magic happens when those colored bits spin together into intricate designs. That’s when I realized that it’s the same for an insightful leader. The colored bits are like their fundamental skills that swirl together to create deeper insights just as the kaleidoscope creates amazing images.
It’s those deeper insights that increase effectiveness and impact.
What then are the fundamental skills of an insightful leader? At the core, insightful leaders appreciate that leadership takes more than just data – it requires objective thinking and an appreciation of feelings – theirs and others. These leaders understand that they need basic skills to manage themselves and to understand other people – whether directing, inspiring, motivating or coaching. It’s not about being agreeable. It’s about being insightful.
After considering all that I learned through experience and through interviews with executives, here is a list of fundamental insightful leadership skills.
Try this Insightful Leader Quiz to assess your fundamental insight skills.
⧠ You understand the need to both think and feel at work.
⧠ You know your values.
⧠ You know and manage your biases.
⧠ You know and use your natural skills effectively.
⧠ You recognize when your natural skills get in the way.
⧠ You manage your blind spots.
⧠ You appreciate the value and limitations of data.
⧠ You listen for and manage both facts and feelings with others.
⧠ You wisely use email, phone or face to face communications
⧠ You know and manage your personal brand.
⧠ You use stories and visual language to connect with an audience.
⧠ You are aware of and manage triggering events for yourself and others.
⧠ You recognize and resolve your stuck stories.
⧠ You know when to decide and when to sleep on a big decision.
How did you do? Are you comfortable that you have deep skill in a third, a half or more?
Perhaps this quiz struck you as overly introspective and self-focused. We’re more accustomed to thinking of leadership as vision setting, providing direction, establishing tone, managing change, influencing and motivating – all of which are outwardly focused. For sure, those are results of leadership like the beautiful, intricate images inside the kaleidoscope. But, as with the kaleidoscope, you can’t achieve good leadership without fundamental skills (like the little bits inside the kaleidoscope). It’s the fundamental skills that you swirl together to create insightful leadership.
What fundamental skills do you most need to develop to be an insightful leader? Let me know and I’ll write more about these in future blogs.