I was interviewed on The Speaking Show with David Newman last week. (We’ll let you know when the podcast goes live!) He ended the interview with a challenging question – as is his job as an interviewer. He asked, “What is the number one, most important skill and/or approach that a leader needs – in order to lead Thoughtfully and be their best?”

Well, I’ve been a leadership consultant and executive coach for a while now, and I know that there very rarely, if ever, is just one main skill and/or approach.

I responded, “I’m a consultant, so I’ll give you a consultant answer. It’s not one thing alone. It’s a combination of two important things.”

It is two important things, IMHO. It’s two important things that I seem to, at least lately, be offering to my coaching clients again and again. And again.

The first important leadership skill? Knowing and owning what you’re good at. What are your strengths? What is the unique value you bring? Why should you be at the table and leading whomever and whatever you’re leading?

I have clients who balk when I tell them to acknowledge and own their power and amazingness, but I do my best to shift their perspective. “It’s not about having a big head,” I say. “It’s about knowing your assets, your talents, your skills. And then honing those and using those (but not overusing those) to the point of most excellence.”

Because if we are unable to admit what we’re good at, we limit our effectiveness. I do believe in humility as a leadership skill, but too much humility will keep me from using my strengths and skills most effectively.

The second important leadership skill? Being aware of when you’re misinterpreting situations and people, and making up stories (and acting on your made-up stories) that are based, often, on your misinterpretations. Which means that the things I know to be true, very well may not be true.

It’s a lot to ask to hold both these leadership skills at the same time. It’s a lot of self-awareness and a lot of self-control. I’m asking you to step into your power and live in a huge amount of self-worth – to be able to proudly say, “Here’s what I know and what I know I’m good at” – and at the same time to be the first to admit that you might not know what you’re talking about and may have misunderstood and misconstrued nearly everything, as you looked through your world through your “personal-perspective-colored” glasses – to be able to humbly say, “I may be wrong about this.”

It’s a lot to ask, but it is – I firmly believe – the foundation for passionate, influential, powerful leadership.

How have you owned your strengths while acknowledging how much you may not know or understand?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in balancing the contradiction of Thoughtful Leadership, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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