Vol. 24 • Issue 26
• Page 30
What kind of potential for leadership do you have? Do you work hard to meet people's needs? Do you communicate well with others? What are your work ethics? What are your personal values?
We all need to develop leadership skills, and as a professional, you should have a plan to work on those goals so that you can improve and be more effective in leadership roles.
A literature and Web site review has given me some ideas for doing self-assessments in leadership. Things as simple keeping a journal can help bring patterns to your attention. Also, portfolios of important documents and the use of surveys can help you assess where you are in the process. Mentors can give you honest feedback. To gain the skills you need, you can attend seminars or meet with staff who have leadership roles now.
Whether it's leading a team or making entrepreneurial decisions, competent leadership doesn't happen overnight. The first step in planning to reach goals in your leadership future might be to write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Prioritize areas that need improvement. This will help you focus your energy on what is important to you at a specific time in your leadership career.
Longest, Rakich and Darr (2000) say that leadership effectiveness results when the leader's style matches a follower's readiness. So think about the group of people you are potentially leading and do some research regarding their readiness to learn and accept your leadership. You may need to use different teaching styles for different types of followers. This is why it is so important to do your homework regarding the groups you are supervising.
Leadership skills are especially important when you work in a consultation model. Camden (2008) notes 10 personality traits that are involved. Do you have confidence in yourself? Are you a good problem solver? Are you motivated? Are you a lateral thinker? How personable are you? How flexible? How obsessive? Can you be assertive? Honest? Realistic?
It appears that the most important thing to make leadership effective is good communication. Lombardi (2001) says that an important part of communication is being consistent. Avoid needless emotionalism. Show your commitment to good patient care and superior work, and devote 10 minutes to one-on-one meetings with every team member once a month. Keep notes in order to stay consistent.
Longest, Rakich and Darr (2000) say that the optimal conditions for negotiations happen when both sides have tangible goals and feel the goals are achievable. Both sides also need to have the intangible goal of establishing a relationship with one another. Learning about the organization's culture and who the power players are can help you participate more successfully in negotiations.
Certain personality traits play a role in how well you listen. Lussier (2007) says being a good listener means paying attention to the conversation, avoiding distractions, staying tuned in and trying never to assume or interrupt the speaker when in a conversation. Good listeners also watch people for nonverbal cues and ask questions when needed. Your ability to stay in control of your behavior and get the whole story before making any decisions is helpful in showing fairness. Good leadership also means being able to discipline employees when needed through positive coaching.
Lombardi (2001) reports that accountability, adaptability, dependability, responsibility and visibility play vital roles in decision making within the management world. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes can help you make decisions that you feel make the most sense in particular situations. A good leader is sociable and easy to get along with, willing to try new things, open-minded and able to explore new ideas and modern concepts for leadership and management.
References available at www.advanceweb.com/OT or upon request.
Shari Bernard, MA, OTR/L, SCFES, has been employed by Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, for more than 18 years. She has a master's degree in health care administration and is pursuing a doctorate in occupational therapy.