leadership2-300x145There are numerous components to leadership, and many of them are written about frequently. In fact, I wrote a blog five years ago, Would You Follow You? Top 10 Ways to Be a Leader, where I listed my top 10 picks of leadership qualities. A lot of these traits would still be on my list. What’s missing from the list, however, is practical advice on how to improve in those highlighted leadership areas.

For instance, if you are not delivering clear, consistent communication, what can you do to start doing so? If you are not leading with vision, what will get you there? It’s easy to read lists and say “that’s great”—but how will you change your behavior to increase your effectiveness?

The Assignment Way of Living

At the Wright Foundation for Human Potential, where I do the bulk of my leadership training, I have discovered what’s called the “assignment way of living.” At any given time, I am working on anywhere from two to four assignments. Of course, having assignments is not useful unless you DO them, and I’m usually a pretty responsible student, so I do them as much as possible.

Being a great leader, and living into all the qualities that make a leader, takes doing your homework. The cool thing about this is that homework can be fun and even nourishing!

In the group I’m currently working with at Wright, each of us has a leadership assignment to further our growth. I thought I would share these with you so that you can get a sense of how the “assignment way of living” can further your own growth as a leader.

  1. Alpha. This one sounds best for people whose names begin with the letter “A” (e.g., Alpha Annie). But it works regardless of the first letter of your name! The Alpha assignment will be good for you if you are someone, perhaps a project manager, who wants to be an outstanding planner—and be so good at planning that others follow your example. It includes planning for breakdowns and having contingency plans in place.
  1. Gone Viral. This assignment will help you if you want to generate more enthusiasm and increase your ability to energize a group, mobilizing them toward goals and a mission. You will start giving more recognition to others, thus garnering their support and investment.
  1. Both Sides of the Telescope. This assignment requires looking at yourself inquisitively and as accurately as possible, at the same time as you look at others. This action creates mutuality and also a clear picture of your own skill gaps and the skill gaps of others so that steps can be taken to fill them. Then of course, you take those steps.
  1. Happy Customers. This one is pretty straightforward. Its purpose is to help you anticipate, elicit, and respond effectively to objections! When you do this, you become more capable of keeping customers happy when inevitable objections arise.
  1. In-the-Moment Visions. This is my assignment and it’s meant for someone whose job it is to set agendas and guide people. One trick here is to have a clear vision for myself that I share with my team. I had known it was important to set visions for projects and to create visions for other people. But I’m discovering that when I share my own vision for myself with others, they often want to support me in making that vision a reality.
  1. O.V. (Points of View) on the Scene. This assignment is helpful for increasing your influence. By presenting your own point of view, your can persuade others to shift their thinking and action—even in difficult and pressure-filled situations.
  1. Good & Done. Complete daily tasks and deliverables on time and on budget. The vision here is to meet goals and deadlines consistently, and anticipate when a goal will not be met so you can apply alternative plans to meet the goal.
  1. Scan & Report (In & Out). In this assignment you work on scanning for problems as well as synergies to determine what is wanted and needed. Done well, this assignment will make you the person the team turns to as an antenna to get a read on the pulse of the team.
  1. Busy Honey Bee. The honey bee assignment encourages you to be thorough and do your due diligence. You will be on top of details and set standards for others to follow.
  1. Losada Colada. I had this assignment last year. Someone with this assignment becomes more inspiring by saying at least 3 positive things for each negative thing she says. People start to like her more and want to please her more.

This is by no means a complete list of leadership assignments. The possibilities are truly endless and I encourage you to have fun with creating assignments and assignment names that will move you toward your leadership goals.


An Invitation

If you want to get a more comprehensive introduction to the “assignment way of living,” I encourage you to attend the Foundations Training at the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential in Chicago. Contact me through the form on my site and I will provide you with a code to come to the weekend at no cost.

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