Questions to guide leadership development

Leadership has always been an important quality for companies. Successful companies such as Microsoft and Apple are known for their innovative and effective leaders. When it comes to developing skills and attributes, leadership is frequently at the top of the list for many managers and executives. Continuous improvement isn't just a concept for processes and operations, it should extend to the intangibles such as leadership development as well.

How can leaders improve their leadership ability? They can start by asking themselves some difficult questions to guide their continuous improvement. The University of California, Santa Cruz suggested a few questions that leaders can use to begin their self analysis.

1. What kind of leader am I?

There is a variety of different types of leaders. Some excel at standing back and playing a manager role. Others jump into the trenches and work directly with their employees. Both methods are viable approaches to leadership depending on a company's situation. Before managers can become better leaders, they need to understand which approaches work for them.

2. What are my goals for working with this group?

Leadership is as much about the people as it is the manager. Without employees, executives have no one to lead. In many ways, managers should base their approaches around the people they work with and understand their goals in advance. This will help managers improve their leadership capabilities in a meaningful way.

3. Am I aware of how others think and feel?

Part of a successful work environment is employee engagement, and managers can't buoy that aspect of their company if they aren't aware of how their workers think and feel. Leaders need to be able to empathize with their employees and make them feel like valuable parts of the business. This will lead to a productive team.

4. Am I willing to accept responsibility?

Leaders must take the losses with the victories. As the saying goes, the buck must stop with them. A leader who can accept responsibility is someoneemployees will look up to and appreciate, thus encouraging them to work harder.

5. Am I aware of current issues?

Leaders need to always be aware of what's going on beneath them. This extendsbeyond just employees – they must know all about the various policies, processes and operations they oversee. If managers aren't familiar with their own work, then they can't make meaningful changes to the way they operate.