For many of us in Ontario and Central Canada, the weather this weekend provided a great opportunity to get out of the house and work on the garden. I was chatting with a friend who suggested this could be a great analogy for reviewing leadership tools.

The concept of a Leadership Toolbox has been discussed by many scholars and gurus in the field. The idea that we can collect different leadership tools with a variety of applications and “store” them in a toolbox of sorts, is popular. I personally have found this analogy to be valuable in sorting out what I want to keep and use in appropriate, tailored ways. There is no shortage of good tools available. I find that most business publications, courses, lectures or books offer at minimum ONE good idea. The secret is to learn where and when best to apply that knowledge or “tool”.

The analogy of the tool box, thinking about a collection of tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, etc. and how skilled professionals use them, makes sense to me. It is obvious that you would most often use a specific tool in a specific situation, for example, a hammer to drive in a nail. One could argue that in a pinch you could, if needed, try to pound a nail in with the handle end of a screwdriver. Perhaps you could succeed with that approach but it would take far too much effort and time.. Better to use a hammer, right?

Leadership tools to enhance our ability to effectively listen, communicate, conduct reviews, etc. are constantly being introduced and revised. There are some that stand the test of time better than others. There are tools that are more useful at different situations or stages of our professional development. It occurs to me that knowing which are the best and when to use them is the same as the situation for a skilled craftsman.

It also occurs to me that we should evaluate the tools we have. Which are still working well? Which are losing impact? What new ones might be available to improve our leadership capability?

While I have never set about a formal process in this regard, I have taken the opportunity to analyze my performance, what I am doing and how I am doing it. I have dropped some methods that once brought me success to add in new tools and new methods to achieve results. I have enjoyed reviewing materials or participating in courses that have challenged my thinking and perspective of previous methods. They have provided me with alternative thinking or ways to evolve my leadership offering.
After musing about this over the weekend, I now plan to undertake a more formal analysis. I am going to think about my skill set and the way I approach leadership as a collection of tools in a “toolbox”. I am going to develop this renewal in the same way I look to revitalize the yard and garden during the nice weather.
I’ll keep you updated as I proceed. Please let me know if you are doing something similar. It would be great to learn where you are succeeding.