What is Your Leadership DNA?

I suspect that many of us never get a handle on our leadership DNA. Instead, we take our views, our tendencies, our work style for granted. Without the self-knowledge that comes from introspection, we give control of what may be our greatest influence to chance.

If you take time to understand your professional wiring, you can begin to understand how your mindset, experiences, and habits influence your work. You’ll begin to see what others see as you lead. You’ll begin to understand why you do the things you do well and why you do others poorly. You’ll begin to identify your weaknesses, which can help you avoid putting them to work. You’ll begin to see your worldview, mindset, assumptions, and beliefs and how they influence what you think, say, and do.

Quickly answer as many of the following questions as you can. What you’re looking for is your visceral reaction to each question, not some calculated response meant to impress. Remember, the questions are for you and you alone, it is intended to be an honest reflection of what makes you tick. Anything else is fiction.

  1. Who is your greatest hero? Why is he or she a role model to you?
  2. What do you and your hero have in common?
  3. Who is your greatest antagonist? What about he or she do you find most frustrating, distasteful, pathetic, maddening?
  4. What traits do you and your antagonist share?
  5. What is a sage? Who is your sage?
  6. When was the last time you sought his or her advice? What did you do with the advice you received?
  7. When faced with likely success or failure, what do you tend to do?
  8. What do you love about your work–the journey or the destination? Why?
  9. How do you react when faced with mediocre effort, lethargy, ill will, thoughtlessness in your team?
  10. What would your team say is your greatest strength as a leader? How are you continuing to develop it?
  11. What would your team say is your great weakness as a leader? What are you doing to rid yourself of it?
  12. What is your greatest fear as a leader? What is the probability that your fear will be real- ized?
  13. What is first memory of being a leader as a professional? Were you pleased with your ef- fort?
  14. What, if anything, did you do to become a better leader as a result of that experience?
  15. What role does self-mastery play in your leadership efforts?

Note: Thanks to Twyla Tharp and her book, The Creative Habit for the idea that became this idea.