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Are You A Great Leader? How To Assess Your Leadership Skills

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at October 7, 2021

Charles Knippen is the president of The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).

One of the best-known quotes on leadership asserts that leaders are made, not born. We usually associate this idea from NFL coach Vince Lombardi with activists, tycoons and even movie heroes broken down by trials who re-emerge as leaders to save the day.

But in our modern world, greatness in leadership is usually achieved through conscious focus and the hard work of personal and collective improvement. This improvement requires striving for self-awareness, understanding leadership competencies and a willingness to continue growing.

What makes a great leader?

Experts have a wide range of opinions about what traits define great leadership, sometimes based on their own values or biases. But from my perspective, there isn’t just one type of leader. Rather, I believe great leaders possess a constellation of competencies, such as self-awareness and the ability to regulate emotions, self-motivation and social skills.

Thus, leadership is a collection of skills, mindsets and habits — all of which we can learn and strengthen with time and effort. Great leaders are a result of self-improvement and training, not just innate qualities.

How To Examine Your Leadership Skills

Leaders wear a number of hats: They have to be visionaries who see the future of their organization; they need to be inspiring captains who can rally their “troops” around a cause; they need to regularly achieve goals. And on top of all that, they have to take care of themselves to maintain high-level performance.

Examining your leadership skills requires you to assess your performance and identify strengths or areas to improve. Here’s a framework to determine how you’re doing.


Your ability to perform in every other sector depends on your level of self-management — one of the most important areas of leadership. It encompasses how you meet your physical needs and take care of your emotional and mental health. The intersection of physical, mental and emotional management shows up in your leadership. For example, effectively managing your time to ensure you get enough sleep can impact the way you respond to conflict or your ability to pivot when projects don’t go according to plan.

To measure self-management, ask yourself these questions:

• How well do I manage my time throughout the day?

• Do I manage my energy efficiently?

• How quickly do I respond to changes and capitalize on opportunities?

• Do I exercise self-control and maintain composure in difficult situations?

• Am I aware of my weaknesses as a leader?

• Do I give myself enough credit for my strengths and accomplishments?

• Do I have a support system, and do I use it optimally?

Managing Others

What do you imagine when you think of leadership? Does the word inspire images of Steve Jobs conveying his vision to a full auditorium or Oprah Winfrey leveraging the expertise of the people around her to inspire her audience? These images indicate leaders’ personalities and styles, which reflect how they influence others.

Here are some self-assessment questions to consider in your approach to managing others:

• How well do you respond to your team members’ needs?

• How effectively do you motivate employees?

• Can you address conflicts with subordinates, peers or higher-ups?

• Can you handle these situations with empathy?

• Do you collaborate well with others?

• Do you sufficiently leverage your team’s strengths or passions to get better results?

• Do you have any blind spots or unconscious biases in your interactions with team members from different cultures, demographics or backgrounds?

• Does your behavior inspire trust in others?

Leading Teams Or Organizations

This sector of leadership is about how you align collective effort to set and achieve goals that fulfill your organization’s big picture. One example is how Henry Ford revolutionized manufacturing by perfecting production and organizing workers for maximum efficiency. Another is how Larry Page led Google’s rise to one of the world’s most powerful companies with a democratic openness that seemed to inspire employees to bring the full brunt of their passion, talents and effort to the company.

Self-examination questions to consider in your guidance of your team’s performance include:

• How clearly have you defined your organization’s long-term goals?

• Are the goals realistic?

• Do you know what you need to achieve them?

• Are you leveraging reliable or high-quality resources, including support networks, to achieve your goals?

• Can you respond to crises or make quick decisions while maintaining focus on bigger goals?

• Are you flexible enough to adjust goals as needed?

• Can you spearhead changes to your goals or organization without allowing your team’s motivation to falter?

Your Results

The results of your leadership are undeniable: They’re the culmination of your self-management, the way you manage others and your clarity of purpose. Many examine project or business outcomes without considering the employee engagement or effective collaboration that went into them. For example, a team may fail to bring software to market by a deadline, not because of faulty processes but because the coding team quit to protest unfair work conditions.

Assess your results with these questions:

• Did we achieve the goals I set for my team or organization?

• Did we meet deadlines?

• Did we stay on budget?

• Did team morale grow as a result of a particular project?

• In what ways can we polish our teamwork moving forward? 

Becoming A Great Leader

The beautiful thing about leadership is that you can get better at it through training. To do that, you have to benchmark where you are. Perhaps you’ve assessed your leadership skills without even knowing it by asking yourself questions like the ones above to understand the areas in which you need to grow.

Remember, leadership is a journey in which there’s always room to improve. With conscious, consistent self-assessment, you can achieve measurable advancements.

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