As I consider my abilities as a leader, I attempt to isolate as objectively as possible what strengths I possess in this capacity. What strikes me as most valid here, or what I perceive to be a genuine asset, is what I will term my confidence, and this exists for me more through identifying the absence of insecurity or uneasiness. More exactly, as I am aware that many people who exhibit strong leadership traits nonetheless reflect discomfort in interacting with multiple individuals, I have no sense whatsoever of such unease. Making my thoughts known to a group, and even as the leader of that group, is not challenging to me; rather, I have a visceral sense of opportunity, and this could not be in place were I less than confident. I note that I further believe my confidence is typically based on a proactive awareness of how I may in fact take on the particular leadership role. Put another way, I recognize that my confidence exists because I ensure that there is ample reason for it to exist. Consequently, approaching a leadership task with the necessary information and a corollary sense of my abilities as meeting the needs of it, I present myself in a fully confident manner. This, I would add, usually generates the same quality in those around me.
Equally strong in me, if not more so, is my degree of commitment. I observe that it is ordinary for leadership to erode as a group erodes, due to an allowing of diminished focus. Whenever people gather to accomplish an objective, it is inevitable that extraneous elements pose a threat to the purpose. I believe my sense of responsibility serves me in an awareness of this potential and an unwillingness to permit the group deviate from the main function. Moreover, I do not perceive this quality as anything more than a kind of pragmatism; the group is assembled to create an effect, and it is incomprehensible to me that any member of it, particularly the leader, would allow the necessary efforts be set aside. This is not to say that I do not appreciate the value of occasional diversions. Nonetheless, my focus on the task translates to an absolute commitment to it, which then serves the group under my leadership.
With regard to weakness, I have long been aware that I have a tendency to listen poorly. What occurs is that I “preempt” the process; as the speaker begins to convey information or thoughts to me, I quickly determine beforehand the content I anticipate, and consequently do not actually take in what is being related. I suspect that this weakness derives, at least partially, from my inclination to maintain focus. I actually fear new information as potentially diverting the group or myself from the task at hand, or perhaps changing the direction of what is already decided or done. I think, moreover, that this same anxiety is likely the cause of the inability or unwillingness to listen many leaders manifest. It is, nonetheless, a weakness, and one particularly damaging in a leader, who is entrusted as having the ability to properly address unforeseen circumstances. Then, another weakness I note in myself is an unfortunate tendency to manipulate. It is not intentional, by any means; I have no agenda in place in terms of deliberately employing personal skills and persuasion to obtain obedience or compliance. What occurs, rather, is that my talent for influencing somewhat “runs away with itself.” I become aware, for example, that a group member is being swayed by my personality, rather than by reason, and I permit this to go on because I have confidence in my own way of thinking, and am then unconcerned as to exactly how I gain the victory. This is, in a word, manipulative, and I believe it has no place in a leader’s character.
Skill Development Plan
In determining a means to address my weaknesses, it seems to me that both may be most effectively approached through the application of awareness. This is by no means a panacea; it translates to consistently making the effort to comprehend my behaviors in these regards at all times, for only through this attention may I negate these harmful factors. When, for example, a group member addresses me, I must consciously seek to set aside my inclination to disregard content. Aware of it, in fact, I may adopt the practice of asking those addressing me to repeat themselves, as a kind of training to my consciousness. Similarly, I must practice pausing before, and in between, conversations in order to assess just how valid my persuasive agents are. As a leader, I am obligated to ensure that personality plays no part in how the group functions, beyond providing a harmonious environment. Each incident of listening or potential manipulation will invariably be unique, as levels of gradation must mark each occurrence. This then demands awareness as the solution, for that awareness will prompt in me the effort required for each case.