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Your Leadership Personal Profile

Your Leadership Personal Profile

4 Inner Ps of Leadership

There are plenty of articles and books on leadership.  The reason being leadership is clearly critical for an organization’s success.  Many emphasize a particular angle or perspective in how you should lead. Instead, this blog provides a comprehensive straight forward approach to know your leadership self.  As Socrates said,  “know thyself.” And with this full picture, it is much easier to identify areas for improvement that will make a difference.

 In coaching mentees on how to improve their leadership. I use my 4 Inner Ps of Leadership framework: Purpose, Persuasions, Personality, and Proficiencies. The framework was introduced in my blog of October 29, 2020 on the Silver Fox Advisors website (See here).   This blog takes that 4 Inner Ps framework and provides a step-by-step approach to develop your Leadership Personal Profile.

Personal Purpose Section

We discussed Personal Purpose in my blog of October 13, 2020 where I briefly outlined a self-development approach.  In the profile exhibit below, that is the methodology taken.

Step 1

The first step is to rank the five characteristics of your Career Development from 1 to 5.  Likewise, in the Personal Development rank the three characteristics from 1 to 3. Finally, rank the three characteristics from Social Development from 1 to 3. 

For example, you might have Financial, Type of Role, Work Environment, Type of Career, and Type of Industry ranked in that order.  You do that for the other three categories.

You should now have a good sense of your priorities in the three main development areas.  Next, we need to determine your priorities across the developmental areas.

Step 2

Then compare the top ranked item from each development area against one another and choose the highest priority in your life. For example, if your top items from the three developmental areas are Financial, Mental, and Family. Then decide on which of these three is most important.  It may be Family.

From the development area chosen, move up the next highest ranked and compare that again against the other highest-ranking development areas.  In our example, you would compare your next social developmental area which might be Friends against Mental and Family to choose the highest of those three.

 You do that five times and place the results in the allotted space in rank order.

Now, you have a fairly good idea of what are the most important priorities in your life.

Step 3

 Then, think about your passions, what excites you, what you are living for, what makes you happy, what you are always talking about.  Couple that with the five priorities above and envision your personal future. 

Write that down as your Personal Vision Statement.  This is what you would like to see your life become in the future. A personal coach can help you think through this personal vision.

Persuasions Section

As you might recall from my earlier blog on the 4 Inner Ps of Leadership, Persuasions are deep rooted beliefs, feelings, needs, perceptions, values, and morals that influence how you behave and act in the “outer” world. They persuade you in acting a certain way and create a filter or bias in dealing with the “outer” world bringing judgment in how to behave. 

The profile exhibit below captures those key elements to illuminate underlying influences on your leadership behavior.

Step 1

Start by listing your top 3 core values such as honesty, tradition, integrity, diversity, positiveness, etc.

This is not intended to be a rigorous psychological assessment.  Instead, what really gets you really angry when someone behaves in a certain manner? What are you always thinking about in making personal decisions? What do you think of most when judging people’s character?

Step 2

Next, think through your key beliefs in people.  An example from Douglas Mc Gregor would be “people are self-motivated to work” or “people only work for the paycheck.”  Another might be “most people tell the truth.”  “People are only out for themselves,” and so forth.  You can get some insight from some personality and leadership assessment tests. Write your top two or three key beliefs about people in the box on beliefs.

Step 3

Similarly, think through your current driving needs.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs may give you some ideas.  On ego, “I need to be recognized for my talent.”  At the social level, “I need a group of close friends.”  Another need might involve “I need more money to buy a house for my expanding family.” What is driving you? Only list your top 3.

Step 4

The broad perspective on life can be more challenging.  What is your overall outlook that biases you in looking at the world in a particular way? This can be spiritual. Or it might be something like the world is full of opportunities.  We are all just passing through life in a moment in time.  The world is a treacherous place.  I am along for the ride and want to have the most fun.  Again, whatever it is that shapes your broad perspective in approaching life.  It is helpful in talking this through with others.

I have a very forward-looking perspective with an open mind on what opportunities or challenges will come forward in the future.  It is important for me to recognize that others are focused on the past and the issues they faced.

This does not need to be complicated.  Write a simple statement of your perspective in the box provided.

Step 5

In the 4 Inner Ps of Leadership blog, we discussed the concept of a Johari window.  There was a window described as Façade where there are things known only to yourself.

It can be helpful in sharing some of these with others to increase your authenticity.

You might say I act very self-confident but underneath I am quite insecure. Or I put on the aura of being in control of a situation when I am unsure of what to do. I tell people that I am happy when I am terribly sad.  I shake people’s hand warmly, even when I do not like them.

Identify a couple to start opening more of yourself to others. List those in the Façade box.

Step 6

My coaching suggestion is to develop Guiding Principles that give people a deeper understanding of how they can expect you to behave.  These principles often emanate from your values, beliefs, and perspectives.

They should be shared with your people.

Here are two of mine to give you an idea.  “Treat people as you would like to be treated.”  Another is “I will believe you until proven wrong.”

Once you feel comfortable with your Guiding Principles, write the top two in the box provided.

Step 7

This all leads to a Character Statement.  The key is what is your moral compass?  How will you respond in challenging circumstances when your behavior matters most?

An example might be, “I am a trustworthy person that people can count on me doing what I say.”  You can get much more elaborate. 

If you put it down in writing, the Character Statement becomes something for you to live up to. This is vital in improving your leadership qualities.

Personality Section

We are getting on firm ground with personality.  Most people have a reasonable idea.  It can be expanded by personality tests, and other people’s feedback. The point is to get a high-level view that accurately describes you.

Step 1

It is best in the characteristics box to simply list words as opposed to phrases that represent you.  Various personality tests are available on-line from the internet.

 If you have taken the Myers Briggs test, then the choices would be from their four categories: extraversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving.

 In the Big 5 Personality test it is degrees of extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, and openness to experience from low to high.

 In DISC, the four quadrants are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.  And so forth. 

You can see some of the overlap among these tests.

 Also include specific feedback from family, friends, and work colleagues that can be quite revealing.

Write these personality words in the Characteristics box.

Step 2

The Leadership Style component is an area of significant interest in coaching you.

 Leadership style can have an incredibly significant impact on the performance of your followers.  This was discussed in my blog of December 3, 2020 on The People Side of Leadership.

Hogan Assessment

 The Hogan Assessment, although somewhat costly for a small business owner/CEO, is a very comprehensive and powerful tool addressing many areas that influence your workplace behaviors and leadership style.  In my opinion, it is the most comprehensive and best assessment on an overall leadership profile covering in a different format Persuasions, Personality, and Proficiencies.

Their personality test focuses on seven areas: Adjustment; Ambition; Sociability; Interpersonal Sensitivity; Prudence; Inquisitive and Learning Approach.  If you take their assessment, this would-be key input into the Characteristics box.

The Hogan Assessment also has a test on Motives, Values, Preference Inventory that focuses on the Persuasions section. Taking their test would provide significant input into that section.

Hogan also has a cognitive ability section which looks at judgment and reasoning.  The judgment can identify the “dark” side of your personality that in my 4 inner Ps Leadership blog can represent fatal flaws. 

This test also provides significant input on leadership strengths and weakness that is key input into the Proficiencies section coming up.

Hogan does provide detailed analysis of your leadership style.

Broader Frameworks

 As a coach, I also like some of the broader frameworks.  Our aim is to get a personal profile not a detailed personality analysis as provided in Hogan or Birkman tests.  However, their key findings are useful input.

In the Managerial Grid, you assess your concern for People and your concern for Performance from low to high.

Likert’s model outlined in my previous blog on the 4 Inner Ps of Leadership is extremely useful. His four styles are Exploitive Authoritarian, Benevolent Authoritarian, Consultative, and Participative Group.

Other leadership approaches such as Servant Leadership, Authentic Leader and so forth are good for you to understand your inner leadership self.

I also highly recommend taking an Emotional IQ test.  Include your assessment in this Leadership Style segment.

It is also critical to get others views of your style by asking people: how you get things done? how you work with people?  Feedback from work colleagues, family, friends, and your coach provide a different and important perspective.

A personal coach can be extremely helpful in providing an assessment of your leadership style.

Take all this input and summarize in several key words and statements.

Step 3

Besides knowing more about yourself, you will have opportunities for improvement. 

For example, you may want to take on the bigger strategy of restructuring your leadership style.  You will need real passion to do so.  This can be a challenging undertaking.

Also, recognize your leadership style matures over time.

In my opinion, Situational Leadership is the strongest style once you have reached a high level of leadership competency.  Here you adjust to reflect the environmental conditions you face based on the deeper understanding of various leadership approaches.

 Tactically, you may find something like you tend to be less sensitive to people’s feelings.  In this case, you would want to listen more carefully.  How are they expressing themselves?  What is driving their behavior?  

There may be fatal flaws you have to correct to be an effective leader. A fatal flaw can be as simple as you constantly snickering when people are talking.  And so forth.

There is no perfect leadership style.  Build primarily on improving yourself, not becoming someone else.

Write down what you want to do now in the last segment.  Update this segment In your profile as you progress.

Proficiencies Section

In my coaching sessions, we spend a good deal of time on Proficiencies.

 As you can see in the exhibit that follows, these proficiencies are broken down into the following:

1) Traits (using Northouse model from his eighth edition book on Leadership Northouse Theory and Practice)

2)  Knowledge of Business (in general),

3)  Industry Knowledge

4) Technical Knowledge

5)   Leadership Strengths with a focus on Strengths Based Leadership.

6.)  Leadership Brand on how you want to be known.

Step 1

In the Leadership Traits box, this is a self-assessment not a test taking exercise.


 You have a fairly good idea on your cognitive ability.  Simply assess from low to high.

 On the other hand, you may have remembered your IQ score.

If you are around 100, then medium would be the choice.

My view is above 115 could be considered high for this purpose.

Other traits

Similarly, how do you view your self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability?  This is your view and how others perceive you.

 Low is not typical for intelligence and integrity. The rest varies by individual. Be honest in your assessment. You will only be deceiving yourself as Traits are generally stable.

Step 2

Business knowledge not surprisingly relates to what is taught in business schools.  These are the underpinning functions in running a business. 

This self-assessment should reflect your knowledge of the current state of the art.  What is being taught today. And what are current discussion topics in business circles. 

For example, I have a business major in marketing and a master’s degree with a lot of IT.  In my career, I started as a computer programmer and was once the head of Shell Oil’s IT organization.  But today, both marketing and IT world would rank only medium in my mind.

Rank yourself from low to high on the business categories in the business knowledge box.

Step 3

Industry knowledge relates to experience as well as expertise.

What are the key drivers to success in this industry? This would include your knowledge of the competition’s offerings and value propositions.  The industry dynamics such as ease of entrance, competitiveness, progressiveness, cycle time, and so forth.

Industry knowledge is not the centerpiece of leadership; yet without sufficient knowledge it can become difficult to gain followers.

Write a couple of key statements in the Industry Knowledge box.

Step 4

Technical knowledge starts with understanding in sufficient detail your product or service. That is, how it works and what might be unique.

More broadly, technical knowledge includes science-based backgrounds such as engineering, physics, etc.  If the product or service depends on a science-based background that should be highlighted.

Similarly, specialized knowledge such as being a CPA, a lawyer, a technician, computer programmer, etc. 

To what degree do you keep up with technology trends? 

This is not a dissertation, but headliners.

Capture a few headliners in the Technical Knowledge segment.

Step 5

The next box on Leadership Strengths is key.

 As mentioned in my blog describing the 4 Inner Ps of Leadership, my approach is to start with Rath and Conchie’s Strength Finders 2.0 Strength Based Leadership test.

 It is not an expensive book and has an internet test that provides your top 5 strengths in the categories of Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking.

Any additional insights from your personality tests, Hogan assessment, other’s feedback should be included. 

Again, make these headliners to keep it simple.

Put them in the Leadership Strengths box.

Step 6

I have found it is extremely helpful for the leader to develop a desired brand statement.

Just like companies have a brand that influences their reputation, leaders do to whether they recognize it or not. 

Managing your leadership brand starts with developing your brand statement.  Your leadership strengths will be a key determinant.

For example, my leadership brand is “a strategic visionary who gets things done.”

 That rests on 3 of my strengths from StrengthFinders falling under Strategic Thinking. The other two fall under Execution.  Plus, all my feedback including LinkedIn point towards my strategic skills.

Think about this carefully. You may want others to review as well as your coach.

 Then formulate your Brand Statement and put in the designated box.

Step 7

Improving your leadership really comes to the forefront under Proficiencies. 

You will find some key areas that you want to improve. 

If there are clear deficiencies, identify what steps need to be taken.

Most often, it is building synergies around your strengths.

These lead into your brand.


The beauty of putting your Leadership Personal Profile together is you will know yourself better.

Knowing yourself better provides clarity on what you can work on to improve your leadership.

While there many components in the overall profile, my goal has been to make this practical and straight forward. It is not a rigorous academic model nor a complicated personality test.

 I have designed it so that you can sketch out your profile on your own.  Treat it as an evergreen document as you progress.

If you are a small business owner or CEO, this tool can be incredibly useful as your company moves through the 4 growth stages described in my blog of October 8, 2020.  In that model, leadership becomes more and more important as you move up the growth stages. 

A Silver Fox Advisor can help you on this journey.


Contributed by Lane Sloan, former Shell CFO and Silver Fox Advisor.

Breaking Out of the Development Stage for Small Business

According to the most recent NAICS Association data, there are roughly 14 ½ million small business with annual sales of less than one million dollars in the United States. They almost all have less than ten employees.

The Chamber of Commerce indicates there are about 400,000 new businesses started each year. Of these, about 20% go under in this first year. The reason most often given was lack of funding followed by poor planning and then bad management.

In my 4 Stage Growth Model outlined in the October 8, 2020 blog, the Development Stage’s criterion was those small companies with revenues of less than one million. The stage is not built around sole proprietors but for those companies desiring to substantially grow their revenues which involves adding employees.

Using this 4 Stage Growth Model framework, this blog will share some thoughts on how to break out of this Development Stage. 

These are typical characteristics of small businesses who have recently launched to those who are struggling to break out of this early stage.

Development Stage Characteristics

  1. Revenues
    Cash inflow from revenues are not robust and less than one million.
  2. Sustainability
    Managing cash to survive is critical for sustainability. Chasing new customers and constraining expenses are dominant management features.
  3. Business Focus/Planning
    Day to day operations dominate the owner and any workers activities. Planning is generally no greater than a year and very ad hoc.
  4. Organization
    Owner controls decision making most of the time. Staff is limited often less than ten as revenues will not sustain greater numbers.
  5. Processes
    Operational sophistication is not strong with processes not well defined.
  6. Target Market
    Unless a strong business idea backed by venture capital or significant angel funding, the customer base is generally local.
  7. Value Proposition
    Owner’s business idea drives offering to customer.
  8. Leadership
    Leadership is not typically a discussion point as distracted by daily business. There are few employees.

Where do you want to take the business?

This is the first question to ask yourself in this Development Stage.

If your answer to this question is you are a sole proprietor and quite comfortable continuing down this path, then no need to read further. You are happy and fulfilling your personal career aspirations.

For the rest, one way to think about this question of where you want to take the business is to ponder your exit plan.  That helps establish the long-term vision.

Maybe this is a family business, and you want to pass it along to future generations stronger and better positioned than it is today.  That is a viable exit plan because you recognize that if you aren’t growing your dying.

 Others want to develop the business through their career to be able to sell it for their retirement funds. My only caution with this vision is you need to build a sellable business.

Some want to take the business as far as it will go with the aspirations it becomes a meaningfully sized business with significant revenue and profitability.  The exit plan may be to sell when a certain valuation is achieved, or to continue to be engaged whatever it morphs into becoming.

Then, there are those with great ambitions of building an empire which they want to control to the grave.

Obviously, there are many scenarios.  What do you want?

As soon as that exit plan is clearer in your mind, the next question becomes how do I get there?

The answer from most every business advisor is you will need to plan a path.

Take time to plan

If you have recently launched your business, then hopefully you have put together a business plan.

 Many people just jump into starting a business without thinking through the essential elements necessary for ongoing success which is why so many go under in their first year as the Chamber of Commerce points out.

Even those who have made it through the first year, often continue to float sideways without any meaningful growth. Many will die before their fifth year.

My experience is these small businesses spend all their time fighting the daily fires trying to survive with little time for planning.

If you are in this position unless you set some meaningful time to plan, then the business will just keep floating sideways.

What are elements of the plan for breaking out?

My reason for developing the 4 Stage Growth Model for small businesses is to give a roadmap of elements to aspire to in the shorter term.

Thus, the objective becomes moving into the Growth Stage.

Here is a generalized description following the same elements outlined in the Development Stage with new characteristics.

Growth Stage

  1. Revenues
    Owner(s) are getting excited about the organization’s success. Traction with new customers or expanding activities with current customers is generating a growing revenue base. Typical revenues run above one million and below ten million.
  2. Sustainability
    Organization is approaching a going concern where owner is less critical to survival and growth. Revenues are providing cash to invest in business and improve operability and compete more effectively for new business. Loss of key customers can prove devastating.
  3. Business Focus/Planning
    There is a fair amount of activity on generating new ideas for products/services/customers and more sophisticated approaches to attracting customers through marketing. Still planning is heavily oriented towards current year. Planning still may be rather ad hoc lacking strategic focus synchronized with tactical game plans. Planning framework including mission, vision, objectives, value propositions, target markets, strategic themes, competitor analysis, goal cascading, accountability, and so forth are often lacking. Effort does not seem to match current rewards for many with the focus still on the here and now.
  4. Organization
    Other key players have evolved and perform critical roles. Often, these players interact more, and teamwork is emerging. Organization structure is still somewhat loose with not overly formal role definition. The size of the organization varies based on the nature of the product or service provided. Often staff exceeds ten and but generally does not exceed fifty and almost always less than one hundred. Contractors are used to avoid adding staff in many cases. People can perform multiples functions.
  5. Processes
    Processes have emerged and there is a level of documentation and sometimes training. Processes are often changing and adapting as more effective functioning progresses and customer feedback requires modifications to be made.
  6. Target Market
    Local market continues to dominate customer base in most cases. Customer loyalty has emerged and identified as key customers with a retention focus. Expenditures for sales and marketing have expanded significantly. Often there are some dedicated people to sales beyond owner and budgets for improved web sites, marketing collateral, and marketing campaigns.
  7. Value Proposition
    Value proposition is adapting to customer needs and customer feedback.
  8. Leadership
    Owner and key players are beginning to think about how to motivate and retain employees. Decision making processes are receiving some scrutiny. Delegation has emerged where owner feels comfortable with key players carrying out more defined roles. Level of participation in decision making varies but generally still well controlled by owner.

Not sure this Growth Stage can be achieved?

If you face the dilemma of breaking out, you may be bewildered on how to move into this Growth Stage.

Here are two recommendations for you to consider if you are willing to listen to others.

First, look for a business advisor.

The association I belong to, The Silver Fox Advisors, specifically targets small businesses.

This is our mission.

“Our association of proven business leaders serves the needs of small business owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs in the Greater Houston area.  We help leaders establish, grow, and prosper their business by sharing our collective wisdom through robust service offerings.

The second recommendation is for you to consider their service offerings.

I particularly recommend their CEO Roundtables that are free of charge.

This will provide you an advisory type board of other small business owners and CEOs trying to grow their businesses too.

A Silver Fox Advisor participates in these monthly meetings.

You should also consider our CEO Education series as well as our Lunch & Learn programs.

If this interest you, go to our website Silver Fox Advisors for more details. As we like to say, Growing your business can be challenging.  You don’t have to go it alone.

Contributed by Lane Sloan, former Shell CFO and Silver Fox Advisor.

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