Recently, I picked up a novel that I completed in 2016 and decided to do another round of edits. I never published it not only because I’m afraid that it’s awful, but also because the marketplace is already crowded with average self-published books. If I want my novel to stand out from the pack, it has to be stronger, and editing is the way to do it.
As a leader, when was the last time you consciously decided to take a critical look at your strengths and gaps and edit your leadership? In the case of my novel, I got feedback from a professional editor and now the heavy lifting, the changes, are up to me. For you, as you work to edit your leadership, you can partner with a coach, mentor, trusted advisor or choose to do it on your own.
The hardest part about editing something that you’re close to on your own, whether it’s your leadership style or debut novel, is you’re attached to it. There are pieces that you love, and would rather not take a critical look, only to learn that you need to make a change.
I get it. If you’re someone who’s happy with “good enough,” keep things as-is. Then again, if you want to be a person who is a role model, in demand, and the best you can be, that requires honesty and a willingness to let go of the old to embrace the new.
Ready to edit your leadership? Here are 25 powerful questions to get you started that I’ve learned from a decade of coaching and putting in the hard work to edit my novel. Editing a novel is about the setting, details, relationships, action, dialogue and telling a story that makes people want to keep reading. The secret to effectively editing your leadership lies in the same areas.
25 Simple (and High Impact) Ways to Edit Your Leadership
One thing I’ve learned from writing and editing a novel is that when it comes time to implement the edits, you can’t focus on everything at once. Also, when you make a change in one area, it creates ripples.
Changing too much all at once creates two complications:
1) If something’s not working, you don’t know which of your changes are a part of the problem and which are a part of the solution.
2) When you make a change, you need to give yourself a moment to live with it and sink into it. If it’s constant editing in the same area, that’s nothing more than tinkering and keeping your fingers crossed.
Find somewhere quiet and grab your journal or just bring your noggin if you don’t process through writing. Ask your ego to go for a walk and get started.
An ideal way to work through the questions is to use a structure to reflect, rate, and brainstorm on positive changes.
1) Ask yourself, do you criticize others in the middle of meetings or wait to give them feedback privately?
2) Do you say that your door is always open but only for minutes at a time when you’re not running between meetings?
3) When you meet with people on your team, is it always in your office or do you walk around and connect with people on their turf too?
4) When your team gets together offsite, do you go too? Are you invited and decline or hear about it later?
5) How often do you set the destination but let the people on your team determine the path?
6) When you review someone’s work, is it impossible to resist making major changes because it’s not the way you would have said it?
7) How often do you share step by step directions without being asked for guidance?
8) Do you tell people you’re transparent but keep critical information to yourself?
9) Do you listen or mostly waiting to respond?
10) Is there more conversation going on in your head than with the person who’s in front of you?
11) It’s called dialogue… are you taking a breath and giving others a chance to share their ideas and perspectives?
13) How often do you have discussions about performance and career aspirations?
14) Do people come to you for advice and input or do you get the sense that they may be avoiding you? Why?
15) How are you cultivating relationships with people outside of your immediate circle?
16) Do you have a trusted advisor?
17) Are you a mentor or trusted advisor for others?
18) Are you always the person who gives the briefs or do you let others take center stage?
19) Does every decision need to flow through you or are the people on your team empowered to move the work forward?
20) Do you hold up the action because you have a huge backlog or are others able to step up as leaders too and blast through roadblocks?
21) Who gets the credit for your team successes? Is it all about you?
22) How often do you invite others to join you in key meetings with senior leadership and how often do you “share what they need to know?”
23) Are you the generator of all of the ideas that move forward?
24) Do you give other’s ideas a chance?
25) Are you caught up in your stories from the past and letting them define your future?
Remember: Not every edit needs to be dramatic. Sometimes the most subtle, vulnerable shifts that create the biggest impact.
If you want to take your edit to the next level, once you reflect on the questions above and identify edits that you need to make, get input. Like an author has beta readers, ask people how they experience you and discover if the way you see yourself is in alignment with the way others see you.
Where do you need to start? How will you edit your leadership?
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