Dear fellow leader: I wish you all the best as you begin to discover your personal leadership story. Good luck! Vince Molinaro

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1 A WORKBOOK TO DISCOVER YOUR PERSONAL LEADERSHIP STORY

2 Dear fellow leader: Thanks for visiting and for purchasing a copy of my book, The Leadership Contract. I appreciate your support and I trust you have found the ideas valuable. This workbook is designed to help you discover your personal leadership story. The process you will follow works. I know because thousands of leaders like you have completed the activities in the leadership development workshops and seminars that we run at Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions. Leaders gain powerful new insights about their leadership roles. They also feel a stronger sense of commitment to being a better leader. The workbook is formatted as an editable PDF file to make it easier for you to complete the activities. It also assumes you ve read my book and understand the four terms of the Leadership Contract. I wish you all the best as you begin to discover your personal leadership story. Good luck! Vince Molinaro Page 1

3 Your Personal Leadership Story G reat leaders aren t born; they are made made and shaped by their experiences. But most leaders aren t fully aware of how their experiences have shaped them to be the leaders they are today. I believe it s crucial for leaders to take time to think about their history and their personal leadership story. Some of the most valuable things we come to know about leadership does not come from books or programs, but through our daily practice of leadership. When I ask leaders what factors have most influenced their leadership, they always say it is their life experiences. So it s clear to me that there is no better way to learn about leadership and becoming better as a leader than to study yourself as a leader. Your past experiences have been crucial in shaping your values and beliefs about leadership; it is the accumulation of these experiences that guide your day-to-day actions. When you know your personal leadership story you will immediately have greater clarity as a leader. You will know your strengths as a leader and where you excel. You will also know about your gaps and where you may struggle. Ultimately, you will understand where you can add your greatest value as a leader to drive the success of your organization. In the following pages, you will go through a three step process: In Step 1, you will determine your key leadership experiences and identify the critical ones that have most shaped you to be the leader you are today. In Step 2, you will identify common themes and patterns so you can understand that how you lead today is affected by your critical experiences. This will also help you determine how you need to lead into the future. Finally, in Step 3, I present some ideas to help you share your personal leadership story with others. When you do share your story with others, you not only walk away with more insight, but so will those you work with every day. They will have a greater appreciation of who you are as a leader, and why you lead in the way you do. As you begin to work on these exercises, I would suggest you find a quiet place to do the work without a lot of distractions. Enjoy the process! Page 2

4 Step 1: Determine Your Critical Leadership Experiences As you begin to reflect on the experiences in your life that have shaped you as a leader, it is important to be as broad as possible in your thinking. Leadership does not just happen in organizations through formal managerial roles. Leadership can happen at home, through volunteer positions, in school, college and university, through participation in sports or in other life roles. It also is helpful to think about experiences where you were the direct leader and those where you were not the actual leader (indirect experiences). We find that many indirect experiences, such as a time when you worked for a truly inspiring manager, or when you worked with a truly dismal leader, can also have tremendous impact. For others, leadership lessons can come from different areas of life. For example, one leader with whom I worked identified an important leadership experience that began when he was five years old. After his parents divorced, his mother became the head of the household. She was a strong leadership influence within his family and was, upon reflection, this leader s first true leadership role model. The leader told us, I learned more from my mother about leadership than most of the formal leaders in my career. Another leader cited a Grade 7 teacher who helped instill within her the value of leadership. So think broadly about the leadership influences in your life. Below are a series of statements that will guide your brainstorming. Complete your responses in the spaces provided. Page 3

5 Brainstorm Key Leadership Experiences 1) Direct Leadership Experiences (Identify experiences where you were the leader, manager or supervisor of others) 2) Indirect Leadership Experiences (Identify experiences where you worked with a leader, manager or supervisor either as a direct report or within his or her department) Page 4

6 3) Identify the influence of family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings, and other relatives in shaping you as a leader 4) Identify experiences in elementary, high school, and/or college/university Page 5

7 5) Volunteer, religious, and/or community-based experiences 6) Sports teams, artistic or leisure experiences Page 6

8 7) Identify individuals you admire (historical or present) that have shaped you as a leader 8) Identify other experiences or events not addressed above Page 7

9 Examine Your Key Leadership Experiences In this section you can begin to examine your leadership experiences and identify the top 6 8 that you believe have most influenced you to be the leader you are today. Take each of these key experiences, and using the tables on the following pages, describe each one in more detail (see example on this page). The template will ask you to: Give the experience a name or a label and identify the time when the experience happened (year) Provide a brief description of the experience in a few sentences Identify the leadership lesson you learned from each specific experience Capture your experiences in chronological order, starting with the earliest experience and moving to the most recent. Page 8

10 LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES My Experience #1. #2. Year Description of this Experience Leadership Lesson Page 9

11 LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES My Experience #3. #4. Year Description of this Experience Leadership Lesson Page 10

12 LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES My Experience #5. #6. Year Description of this Experience Leadership Lesson Page 11

13 LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES My Experience #7. #8. Year Description of this Experience Leadership Lesson Page 12

14 Step 2: Identify Common Themes & Patterns Now that you have determined your critical leadership experiences, take some time to look at them as a whole. Below are a series of questions to help you identify common themes across all your experiences. Overall Themes & Patterns 1) What common themes and patterns emerge across all your experiences? 2) What leadership lessons figure prominently for you? Page 13

15 3) Would you describe any experience as a defining moment that essentially shaped who you are as a leader? If so, how? The Four Terms of the Leadership Contract Reflect on your experiences by considering each of the four terms of the Leadership Contract. 1) When did you find yourself deliberately making a Big D leadership decision? Page 14

16 2) As you review your critical experiences, what insights did you gain about the small d leadership decisions you typically make? 3) What did you find were your most important obligations as a leader? When have you lived up to them? When have you failed to step up to your leadership obligations? Why? Page 15

17 4) What hard work have you effectively tackled in your leadership roles? What hard work have you avoided and what was the impact to you, your team and your organization? 5) When was your resilience and personal resolve tested as a leader? What did you learn about how you manage adversity? Page 16

18 6) When have you built a sense of community with fellow leaders? When have you failed to build a sense of community? What was the impact? Your Personal Leadership Story 1) What new insights do you now have about your personal leadership story? Page 17

19 2) What do you know now that you didn t know before? 3) What is the primary value you bring as a leader? Page 18

20 4) How will this new-found understanding of your leadership story impact you as a leader? What will you do to become the best leader you can be? Page 19

21 Step 3: Share Your Leadership Story One of the most powerful things you can do as a leader is to share your leadership story with those you lead and work with every day. You will find it has a strong impact on others. They will come to better understand who you are as a leader, what s important to you, and in turn, what influences how you lead. Take a moment to reflect on how you can share your leadership story with the people you work with every day. Here are some ideas to consider: A Trusted Colleague or Mentor - Share your personal leadership story with a trusted colleague or mentor to gain their perspectives and insights. Your Manager Find a time to meet with your manager to share your personal leadership story. Determine whether your insights are aligned with your manager s. It helps if you have a strong relationship with your manager. Your Direct Reports - Meet with your direct reports and share your personal leadership story with them. See how it affects them. You may find that they have a greater sense of connection to you as a leader. A Leadership Coach If you are working with a leadership coach, use one of your coaching sessions to review your personal leadership story with them and determine what this means to how you now need to step up as a leader. The Community of Leaders Join the so you can keep the conversation going about your own personal leadership story. Share it with other leaders who share your passion and commitment to great leadership. Final Thoughts This workbook has provided you the opportunity to gain greater clarity and commitment as a leader by understanding your own personal leadership story. I encourage you to come back to this workbook and review your insights, and even add to them as you have other experiences and take on future leadership roles. Page 20

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