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Eye, Eye Captain!

In our work as coaches, we are often asked to comment on the essential leadership attributes for success in today’s world. Some people prefer a list that allows them to “measure” individual fit. Some want a prescription or formula for leading teams and/or organizations. And anything that has a number of items (5 functions, 3 best practices, 10 traits, 8 indicators) or tips is typically very appealing.

Case in point ... check out 10 Qualities of Facilitative Leaders.

While we acknowledge the importance of defining and refining selected skills and talents that can enhance overall leadership effectiveness, we would suggest that the first step is learning to lead yourself. We encourage the pursuit of self-awareness and discovery of individual uniqueness – especially when it comes to communication and decision-making style and preferences.

David Marquet, a retired Navy nuclear submarine captain, talks about his personal transformation from an authoritarian leader to one who embraces a collective, shared approach to leadership. In this video, he suggests that, instead of taking control and attracting followers, we need to give control and create leaders. He strives to ban the Aye, Aye Captain in favor of opening his Eyes to the initiative, creativity, and passion of others.

Begin to re-define your leadership today by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How much do I know about how I’m Being (vs. what I’m Doing) in my leadership?

  • How much do I care about the day-to-day experience of the people I’m leading?

  • What are some ways to learn more about myself to eliminate blind spots?

While these are simple questions, the answers can be elusive. The search for truth may require some vulnerability and risk-taking. Consider the following:

  • Ask key team members for a candid assessment of your leadership.

  • Establish a mechanism for ongoing feedback and feedforward to inform your progress.

  • Encourage colleagues to increase their own individual self-awareness.

Strive to replace the Aye, Aye with an Eye on how leading yourself and redefining leadership is the first step in leading others.


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