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Lead with inspired authenticity: chuck the checklist and find your why

Paper cranes leadershipHave you ever made your own “leadership skills checklist”? If you have, it probably included things like “active listening,” “decisiveness,” “delegation,” and “motivation,” to name a few. As accountants, we love to create checklists that can get us to a well-defined outcome – so why would we treat our efforts to become great leaders any other way?

The thing is, if we are only checking off skills on a list, are we really developing into the best leader we can be?

I believe the answer is a resounding NO!

To become the best leader we can be, we have to get past our skills checklist and dig into who we are and what drives us. If we can stop worrying about checking off skills and instead focus on our true purpose, we can lead our teams with authenticity and inspiration.

I am sure you are thinking that finding your true purpose sounds pretty touchy-feely. All I ask is that you give yourself permission to try the following steps and see if they change the way you interact with your teams:

Start simple – take an assessment. There are a number of self-assessments that can help you better understand yourself and how you interact with the world.

From the VIA Survey (which is free), to Clifton’s StrengthsFinder, to Wiley’s DISC and Myers Briggs personality assessments, you can begin to develop a detailed picture of how you relate to people, situations and even environments.

While these assessments certainly don’t define who you are, they can help you see traits and preferences you may not have otherwise noticed about yourself. They can also explain how those around you view your style, communication and interactions.

Crank it up – ask yourself “why?” Now that you know a little more about yourself and how others may view you, take a moment to consider the “why” of what you do.

Why do you get out of bed every day? Most of us will start off by answering – “because I have to.” We have to take care of our families, be there for our colleagues, and be successful. But consider that there may be deeper reasons for why you get out of bed every morning.

Perhaps you get out of bed because you believe that what you do for your clients or company makes a positive difference in the world at large. Perhaps you get out of bed because your family is the cornerstone of your happiness and providing for them brings you true joy.

"There is a deeper reason for why you do what you do, so take some time to find it."--Mark Twain

Lead with purpose – apply your “why”. So, you have figured out your purpose, what does that have to do with leadership?

In reality, leadership is all about how we connect with one another to accomplish something greater than we could have accomplished individually. So, if leadership is all about our connections, doesn’t it follow that being your authentic self and knowing what you believe make it much easier to build relationships with those around you?

Building relationships by sharing your purpose, living your purpose and translating your purpose into actions invites others to “buy-in” to your vision. When people see your vision and align their own purpose with yours, innovation and success quickly follow.

I know this process may feel uncomfortable at first, as I have been through it myself. It can be a little scary to let go of the checklist mentality. And it is definitely unfamiliar territory to turn away from the technical skills we all thrive on in the accounting space.

But I promise you this, finding your purpose opens up new possibilities in creating relationships and leading in an inspiring and authentic way. Being yourself (and knowing the real you!) just plain feels good.

So, give it a try and see what happens when you chuck the checklist and follow the pathway to purpose, you might be surprised by who you find.

Watch this segment from the Human Intelligence series to learn more and join Lindsay Stevenson for EDGE Career Development at AICPA ENGAGE in Las Vegas, June 12-14.

 Lindsay Stevenson, CPA, CGMA, Vice President of Finance & Tax at 1st Financial Bank USA.

 

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