This is a quick leader development exercise that always makes a positive impact. It’s perfect for a “Lightning LD” (that’s a quick, yet impactful, leader development session with your team), and can be done, for example, over lunch. Ask your team members:
- What attributes and/or competencies do you want most in a subordinate leader? [Brainstorm out as many as you want, but then select the top 3-5 in rank order]
Have them think and write on their own (individually). After a few minutes, shift their focus and ask:
- What attributes and/or competencies do you want most in a boss? [Brainstorm out as many as you want, but then select the top 3-5 in rank order]
After a few more minutes, have a conversation. Ask them to share their lists and to explore their thought process. Facilitate a conversation about the similarities and differences across your team. And draw attention to someone who has a different list for a subordinate and a boss. Use that observation to dig into the why behind the lists being different.
Wait a day or two and ask your team several follow-up questions:
- Given what you said you value most in a subordinate and boss, how would your current boss assess you as a subordinate?
- How would your current subordinates assess you as a boss? In other words, turn your own criteria around on yourself.
- And, how are you putting this into practice?
Have a conversation, and see where it goes. The greater challenge really is not to decide on the “right” top five attributes/competencies; rather, it is to act on them–to put them into practice.
For more insight about how you can use this idea with your team, read two previous blog posts describing a similar process with a group of West Point cadet leaders:
(1) What Do You Want In A Leader, Part 1