People are always curious about the keys to effective leadership and how to develop talent to be the best they can be as successful leaders. In my mind, few people have been more curious about this topic than Dr. Dave Jackson.
Dave is the founder of Jackson Leadership Systems, a consulting firm. For over 40 years he’s worked with senior executives to learn their lessons about leadership, and to share his insights with others to develop their leadership skills. After a lifetime of discovery, Dave retired this past January from his firm, handing the reigns over to his son, Tim. But before purging his frequent flyer number from memory, he jumped onto a few more planes to pose a final, key question. He selected an elite group of 11 North American clients that he had worked with for up to 20 years — leaders with particularly effective track records, to ask them: What do you think are the most important things a leader must do to find, develop and retain leaders in your organization? Their answers produced six themes, of which the first one surprised Dave the most:
Despite his extensive experience working with senior executives, he did not expect that the most frequent comments would centre on the need for budding leaders to develop a high level of self-awareness. Self-awareness, they argued, is the most important ability for a growing leader to possess. They talked about giving young leaders experiences so they better understand their strengths and weaknesses, their values, what they really want to do with their lives, and how much they’re willing to sacrifice — family, free time, and other things in pursuit of business success. The need for self-awareness among budding leaders was the most important theme that emerged from the interviewees.