By Michael Gunther

This phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To be or not to be – that is the question” was part of the soliloquy I memorized in the 10th grade. It came to me as I thought about the choices I have made as a business leader. Reflecting on my own journey as a leader, I have made conscious, and sometimes subconscious choices that have both hindered and helped my growth as the leader I know I can be.

I discovered my leadership journey to be inspiring and challenging. As I grow as an individual, I find my goals and desires shift − which in turn has impacted my ability to lead with a consistent vision or goal towards the future at times. When inspired, I have seen how I can transform a team to create achievements much greater than they could individually. As a leader, I have been up and I have been down, sometimes even questioning my leadership ability, and at other times clearly confident in my ability to lead.

The question of whether to be or not to be a leader has rarely surfaced but the question, whether or not I am the leader I think I can be, is always at the top of my mind. Am I doing everything I can to transform myself into a better and stronger leader? Do I own my weaknesses and honor my strengths? Effective leadership requires more than a great vision. It requires understanding your perception against your team’s perception of how things are really going. How does your team perceive how you are doing as a leader? How does your team perceive how you are performing in creating a collaborative work environment? Are you open to really hearing this feedback?

I recently learned the importance of providing your team with both formal and informal method of providing feedback to help you develop into a better leader. My team asked if they could conduct a formal performance review on me, as I had just completed their formal performance review process. At first, my natural inclination was to wonder: are they trying to tell me something? You see, I meet with each individual offsite every month specifically to see how they are doing and if there is anything I can do to better support them. We also implement a quarterly Collaborative Work Environment™ assessment (CWe) to determine if my perception and their perception of how the team is doing aligns. I also check in with them throughout the week as well, and now they wanted to provide me feedback in a more formal process.

I said yes (and to be honest – hesitantly) and over the next week, the team assessed me on my role and I assessed myself using one of our standard review forms. The conversation that pursued was enlightening, educational and inspiring. I learned where I could be a better leader to support them, as well as where I was excelling as a leader in their minds. It was a process that also allowed us to take our working relationship to a new level as a collaborative team.

Bottom Line

Being a leader is one of the things I enjoy the most, but it is also one of the most challenging things I am constantly trying to figure out. To be or not to be a leader – that is the question. If you want to be the leader, you need to be vulnerable enough to get feedback from those around you, whether through a formal process or a tool like CWe to give you vital information that will allow you to excel in your role.

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