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Leadership Training Begins With Personal Leadership Skills

By Mark Sincevich

If you want to be an effective leader, then you must exercise great personal leadership skills first. Since I use photography to more effectively communicate concepts in my leadership skills training speaking programs, let me give you a photography analogy...

If you asked me what accessory I value beyond all others, what do you think I would say? It's not going to be a flashgun, a certain type of film, or spare batteries. While these things are necessary, without the foundation of a well-made, lightweight tripod, you will not be able to consistently shoot great photographs. And, without the proper foundation, you will NOT be able to lead your team effectively. Here are the 3 legs to effective personal and organizational leadership...

Powerful Leadership Skill Training Leg #1: Creativity
Great personal leadership or leading with focus starts with building your creativity. How can leaders come up with new ideas if they are not 'seeing' or practicing creativity? Without new products, new services or new procedures, an organization can't be competitive. Creativity is beyond taking a new way home from work or trying to be creative for the next 30 minutes. It delves into how you exercise your 'creativity muscle' on a regular basis.

You need a consistent source of new ideas that do not come from your normal surroundings. One way I practice my creativity is by automatically adding a half-day minimum to every business trip. I get out and 'see' my world. Practiced on a regular basis, this creativity outlet will add more character to each location and will also be the source of new ideas.

Employers can add creativity routines by establishing programs that cross-trains employees. For example, train your accountants to understand what it means to sell products or services.

Another way you can stimulate creativity is to provide paid time off for community work or have a local 'pet' project that gets a lot of attention. One of my customers, Lockheed Martin invests in the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live. This strengthens community connections, involves learning new skills and allows for creativity to emerge

Powerful Leadership Skills Training Leg #2: Communication
Once you get a great idea, it's not good enough just to write it down. You need to be able to communicate it effectively. Here's how...

Recently, I worked with the US Army Evaluation Command. I helped them improve the quality of their presentations given by senior leadership. They wanted new hires to understand key concepts and take positive action on them soon afterward. So I reminded them that powerful communications is divided into three parts:

Step 1: You need to refine your content by doing great research.
Step 2: Involve the audience by understanding them better.
Step 3: Rehearse your delivery, so your communications are congruent with your content.
Make sure your ideas are simple. They have the most power. More employees and customers will resonate with simple ideas. When you have resonance, you set the stage for positive action.

Powerful Leadership Skills Training Leg #3: Life Balance
A tripod wouldn't be able to support itself or the weight on top without a third or stabilizing leg. The stabilizing leg is the life balance leg. It would be a real shame if you came up with a great idea, communicated it in a powerful way, but weren't around to see your idea to fruition. The stabilizing leg of your leading with focus tripod allows you to see and monitor the implementation of your idea.

Life balance also reinforces a self-perpetuating cycle. The more you practice work life balance by spending time with your family, taking charge of your health, and getting in touch with a higher purpose, the more space you give creativity to emerge. And the process of leading with focus is able to repeat itself again and again.

What it Means to Lead with Focus
Remember, leading with focus is about 'seeing' the world with new eyes to get that next idea. It's about getting your ideas to resonate with as many people as possible. Leading with focus is also enjoying the journey that is your life along the way.

Isn't it time you started practicing leading with focus in your organization? Start practicing great leadership skills by enhancing your personal leaderships skills first.

Mark Sincevich created The Leadership Lens from his extremely popular monthly newsletter, The Leadership Lens. The book is divided into 6 sections, creativity, work/life balance, personal leadership, simplicity & the power of focus, powerful presentations, and perspective.
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