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Manager’s Checkup: Obstacles to leadership

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Some people are born leaders, but all of us can develop our competencies and be better leaders. The consultants at Hay Group identify four key competencies of successful leaders—and obstacles to expressing those competencies. To help identify your obstacles to leadership, answer "Yes" or "No" to the following statements:

1. Do you lack skill in finding patterns in large sets of information?

2. Do people around you require you to be concrete instead of abstract?

3. Does it require enormous effort to "think outside the box" in your organization?

4. Do you find it difficult to see patterns, trends or missing pieces when presented with a mass of information?

5. Do you see your role as delivering a product instead of meeting a person's business needs?

6. Do you find it difficult to think about the long-term needs of others?

7. Are you less energized by maintaining relationships than by individual goal-setting and improvement?

8. Do you find it difficult to maintain clear communication with clients regarding your mutual expectations?

9. Do you see obtaining information as being somebody else's job?

10. Does your organization reward managers for fast action instead of careful research?

11. Does your organization fail to provide clear tasks or directions?

12. Do you often not take the time to ask the probing questions that can help you get to the root of a problem?

13. Do you feel uncomfortable sharing your ideas for long-term strategies and visions?

14. Does your organization lack clear expectations for leaders regarding the mission of the enterprise?

15. Does your organization fail to provide adequate time for making complex choices?

16. Do you find it challenging to prioritize your work in alignment with your business goals and objectives?

What do your answers mean?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you've encountered obstacles to your leadership. Here's how they relate to the Hay Group's key competencies:

Questions 1-4: "Conceptual thinking," or the ability to identify patterns or connections between situations that are not obviously related.

Questions 5-8: "Customer service orientation," or focusing one's efforts on serving others and meeting their needs.

Questions 9-12: "Information seeking," a drive or an underlying curiosity to know more than is required about things, people and issues.

Questions 13-16: "Strategic orientation," or the ability to link long-range visions and concepts to daily work.

There are many ways to overcome these obstacles, both at work and at home. (For example, reading mystery novels can improve your conceptual skills.) Seek out models and mentors in your workplace and your life. And keep a journal of the challenges you face, how you've addressed them and how you could address them better. The Hay consultants strongly recommend that you set goals for developing these competencies, monitor your progress toward achieving them and reward yourself for achievements.

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