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Self coaching tools #1: The Leadership Shadow

In a series of blogs, I will be sharing some useful tools that I return to constantly when coaching leaders. These are tools that you can use yourself to help reflect.

First up, one of the most vauable and useful models to think about the influence you have as a leader. We all know that our actions should match our words, and that these should match our intentions, but this model helps set out clearly what that looks like. It helps clarify how your unconcious biases and actions could show up and undermine what you are trying to achieve. It's called the Leadership Shadow.

As a leader, what you do casts a shadow over your team - it affects the culture, how they work and what they focus on. So to make sure that the shadow you're casting matches your intentions, you need to be mindful of four areas.

Firstly, there's what you say - how do you frame issues when you talk about them? How often do you talk about particular topics? What do you emphasise in conversations? Don't make the assumption that everyone knows what you're thinking - you need to say it and repeat it.

Secondly, how do you act? What are you behaviours and how do these match up with what you say matters to you? How do you build relationships, how do you conduct yourself in meetings? What message is this sending?

Thirdly, what do you measure? If you're setting KPIs and objectives for yourself or your team, how do these match up with what you say is important? If you want to increase customer satisfaction, you need to be measuring this, not focusing on sales figures.

And finally, what do you prioritise, particularly in terms of your time? What are the regualar items in your diary that don't get moved around? What and who will you always respond to? The answers to these questions send a strong message about what matters to you.

If there is incongruence between any of these areas, it will affect the impact you have as a leader. You can't expect people to listen to what you say if your behaviour undermines it. You can't ask people to meet particular targets and then not priopritise the work that you need to do to help them meet them.

The Leadership Shadow was originally developed to help leaders reflect on unconcious bias, particularly in relation to helping more women suceed in the workplace. However, I think it can be applied in almost any leadership situation where you want to be both authentic and effective.

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