Exercises in Developing Your Leadership Skills
“Great Leaders Create More Leaders Good leaders have vision and inspire others to help them turn vision into reality. Great leaders create more leaders, not followers. Great leaders have vision, share vision, and inspire others to create their own.”
~Roy T. Bennett
This next section of the module is here for you to consider and explore your own leadership skill development. Consider some personal goals you might have as you work through this section of the module.
Developing Your Vision: A Personal Goal and Vision Planning Exercise
“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction.” ~ Alvin Toffler
Discovering Your Purpose
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What excites or moves you? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What are some ideas that you hold close to your heart?
Feeling fulfilled often starts with asking big, deep questions. Your WHY is the bigger vision for what you want your life to be like, and how you want to feel.
At its best, exploring your why taps into uncovering the vision you have for your life. If you struggle in this process, that’s okay. When you keep your why in mind, you will at the very least choose some goals that are a little richer and more aligned with where you feel you want to go.
If the idea of finding your why is new or hard for you, we invite you to explore some bigger thoughts. Think of some foundational experiences in your life that made you who you are. What has motivated you to take this training? What are some things that inspire hope in you? What gives you a little spark of purpose?
You are the hero of your own life
Even though it might not feel like you’re a hero, you are! Think of a real-life hero, or even a favourite movie character or comic book character. All heroes have an origin story; most of the time we have some awareness of our hero’s origin story – the compelling and often difficult journey that shaped them.
Who did you think of? Why did you pick that person/character as a hero? What about their strengths, or character appeals to you? Do you see some of yourself in them?
Consider your own origin story
- You have been through some hard things. You’ve had some ah ha moments. Let’s tap into that.
- Can you think of a defining moment that made you decide to take this training?
- What are bits of your story that make you, YOU? (They can be good, or difficult experiences.)
- What was the hardest thing you had to overcome?
- Who supported you? Who are your allies and mentors?
- What are your superpowers (we all have superpowers/strengths)?
- How do you see all of this supporting your WHY?
- Spend some time over these next few weeks thinking about these things, and how all of them are connected to your WHY, or your sense of purpose.
Identifying Your Strengths
In general, most people struggle with identifying personal strengths. Outside of a job interview when we are asked to identify our strengths, it can feel braggy, narcissistic or immodest.
But identifying personal strengths is essential to creating the life we want. We all have strengths, whether we see them or not. Discovering what they are and then building on them supports us to grow our character and our resiliency. Strengths aren’t static; they can shift and change, especially when we are intentional about developing them.
Owning our personal core strengths supports community and interconnection. When each of us are clear on what strengths we bring to the table, we can work together to be a stronger whole.
In the book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Peterson, Seligman, 2004), the authors identify the following 24 character strengths:
- Social Intelligence
- Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
- Love of Learning
All of us have most of these character strengths, but some will be stronger or more developed in us than others.
- What are some strengths that you feel are missing from this list?
- What would you say are your top 3 strengths?
The Positivity Project website article Character Strengths (n.d.) states:
Character strengths aren’t about ignoring the negative. Instead, they help us overcome life’s inevitable adversities. For example, you can’t be brave without first feeling fear; you can’t show perseverance without first wanting to quit; you can’t show self-control without first being tempted to do something you know you shouldn’t.
Strengths are not the same as skills. People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are two different things.
Strengths = who you are.
Skills = what you can do.
Strengths are associated with character (e.g. focused, humourous, open-minded, kind), while skills are associated with our abilities. Some examples of skills include: cooking/culinary, carpentry, car repair and restoration, drawing, accounting, web design, etc.).
We can all build our skillset; we can learn to cook, rock climb, play guitar, or draw, and we can improve on those skillsets through practice. So many people discover new skill sets even later in life. Skill building is one of the key points within self-determination theory.
When goal or vision planning it is useful to be clear on your skills, knowing that you can and will continue to learn. Learning new skills is part of the magic of life. Skills are ever growing, and everyone starts off rough in the journey of learning to do something new. Skill development requires practice, attention, and time.
- What are some of your skills?
- What are some skills you would like to develop?