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Identify Your Reasons for Leading and Build an Action Plan in 3 Minutes

April 10, 2018 Mark Hannum

Why should I identify my reasons for becoming a leader? How will things be different with my leadership? Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once stated: “You manage things; you lead people.”

What drives you to lead?

The motivation to lead others to success is different for everyone, and it’s important for every leader to understand their own personal motivators. My last blog explores this topic further.

Today, I’m excited to share a short, powerful exercise that I did in one of the first leadership development workshops that I ever attended, many moons ago. It has since stood out in my mind as a defining moment in my own journey of discovery, and here’s why: it helped me uncover my motivation for leading—and for doing what I do every day.

So, grab a piece of paper and set aside a few minutes. You’ll be glad you did—you’re going to uncover the underlying reasons why you are a leader. This valuable self-discovery helps us shine a light on what drives us—and ultimately helps us become more successful, enjoy a deeper sense of satisfaction, and achieve greater impact.

On your piece of paper, make three vertical columns and label them:

  1. Experiences
  2. Growth
  3. Contribution

Now, get your phone out and set the timer for 90 seconds. Before you hit start, think of all of the experiences you’d love to have as a leader if time, money or knowledge weren’t factors. Remember:

  1. Don’t edit your thoughts. Just write.
  2. There are no limits to your imagination.
  3. Simply write whatever comes to you.

Maybe experiences you’d love to have as a leader include: Being out front at company events. Being in a place where I can reward others for their achievements. Being a thought leader in my industry.

Write whatever comes to mind. Go…

When your 90 seconds is up, stop writing. Now do the same thing for growth, which is the middle column. Write down all of the different ways you’d like to grow when it comes to leadership with no time, money, or knowledge restraints standing in your way.

Would you like to grow by: Gaining confidence in my own ability to lead? Developing someone? Finding a mentor or becoming a mentor? In the last column, contribution, write down all of the ways you want to contribute with your passion.

Your contribution could be: Starting a tradition in your organization. Becoming involved in a local organization. Finding great stories and sharing them with others. Leading training sessions for younger leaders. Sharing my knowledge in a blog.

Time’s up. You might find that you’re experiencing a positive physical reaction to imagining the reasons that you want to get better at leadership.

Based on what you wrote in each column, were there any surprises? Are you spending your time developing the right things?

In each column, circle one item that you’re going to work on in the next two weeks. Below your list, write down one action that you can take. For example, if you circled that you want to grow by developing someone, what’s one thing that you can you do now to work towards that goal? Write it down to hold yourself accountable, and you’ll have taken the first step toward becoming a better leader.

Smiling woman writes on whiteboard with marker
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