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Understanding yourself as a leader: diagnostics and tools
  1. Anne Bean
  1. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anne Bean, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK; Anne.Bean1{at}

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As a leader, the ability to understand yourself is crucial, but is not as straightforward as it might seem. It not only concerns personality but includes our values, beliefs, emotions and self-regard. This article aims to provide an introduction into what is a vast and sometimes complex, but fascinating topic.

The adage ‘leaders are born, not made’ may on occasion pertain to be true. Some individuals have a seemingly inherent ability to consistently motivate and engage. This is not the case for everyone; but does that mean they do not have leadership capability? By better appreciating personal attributes and limitations, in addition to deepening your understanding of those whom you lead, a leadership style can be developed which best suits the individual and their team.

It is widely accepted in the literature that ‘who you are is how you lead’. Bass stated that for effective leadership, the most important aspect ‘comes from a combination of emotional expressiveness, self‐confidence, self‐determination and freedom from internal conflict’.1

An individual’s personality will predispose them to display particular behaviours. Those behaviours which contribute to a clinician’s clinical skill may not necessarily be those best suited to developing leadership skills. The ability to reflect and ask, ‘how might my behaviours affect those around me?’ is crucial. Furthermore, a greater understanding of how our values appear in our actions, and how we may be affected by and change our behaviours depending on the environment we are in, ultimately will improve our leadership.

There are numerous tools and diagnostics that endeavour to assist our understanding of personal leadership, with self-evaluation tools most commonly used. While these encourage self-reflection, undoubtedly very powerful in developing greater understanding of personal leadership, there are also drawbacks. Remaining truly objective when undertaking self-assessment can be challenging. Furthermore, these tools lack the insights …

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  • Contributors AB devised, researched, wrote and submitted the article as an individual.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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