One important question


You are an experienced leader for whom leadership has taken on a habitual rhythm. You rush about your day, hardly taking notice of what is in front of you, but getting things done nonetheless. You take action and get results without much thought about the potential you have within to go above and beyond your current level of leadership and to be working at your best.

Whenever someone comes into your office with a problem, you solve it. When something needs to get done, you do it. When fires break out, you get out the hose. You say you have the best team and you’re confident of your skills as a leader.

But could you entertain the thought that you could be even better at being a leader? If so, then there is one important question you can ask yourself.


What am I doing (or not doing) that’s keeping me from being at my best?


Even the very best leaders understand that they can get better at their craft. They know there’s always room from personal/professional growth. But the answer to this question may be eluding them. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a response to this question, there are some simple ways to begin to learn more about what’s keeping you from being the best possible leader you can be:

Look beyond the obvious. This question doesn’t just address your work life; it addresses your entire being including your diet, your sleep, your outside-of- work relationships, your spiritual and intellectual life. If things outside of your everyday work world are out of sync, they will impact your ability to lead at your best. Start now to make sure all areas of your life are in congruence.

Observe yourself real time. Pay attention to your behaviors and the reactions you get from those around you as you go about your work. What are you doing that could be done differently or better?

Ask for feedback and listen well to what you hear; consider it carefully and thoughtfully even when it’s hard to hear. Sometimes your blind spots keep you from accepting behavior that’s less than optimal for you to lead at your best.

If you are like many leaders I know, you are driven and focused to take action and get results. This drive is a strength that undoubtedly got you where you are today. But it’s also a strength that can go too far, keeping you from being thoughtful and intentional about your actions. Dial this strength back and carve out regular time in your schedule to consider what you are learning about yourself from this one important question.

Develop a plan of action to grow and change the habits that will make you even better; to go beyond what you think might be possible for you.

And then start the personal growth work all over again. Because leadership isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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