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Good leaders are self-aware, and have thought through the issues and complications of leadership, says professional development consultant Todd Cherches. On the ThoughtLeaders blog, he offers 10 questions to ask yourself – and to answer:

1. How do you personally define leadership?

Definitions of leadership abound. But if one of your subordinates asked what your definition is, would you have an answer?

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2. Who are some of the leaders that you admire and why?

We can learn from other leaders, particularly from their failures. Are there leaders from business, politics, the arts, or sports who you admire, and why?

3. Who have been some of the influential leaders in your life?

While we can learn from contemporary and historical figures we have never met, the most influential leaders are often people we have known – from grandparents to neighbours to bosses – who have shaped our lives in some way. Who are they, and what did you learn from them about ethics, core values, and leadership style?

4. What are some of the defining leadership moments of your life?

Sometimes an incident or interaction transforms us or others in a memorable way. Those moments serve as a guiding compass, for us, and the people we lead. So it's important to identify and understand those defining leadership moments.

5. What are you truly passionate about?

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Passion, like negativity, is contagious. "Rather than trying to light a fire under people, great leaders light a fire within them. So are you clear on what it is that you are truly passionate about … and do you inspire passion in others?" he writes.

6. Why should anyone be led by you?

What leadership characteristics do you have that will allow people to be led by you, rather than simply have them accept you as their boss and dutifully follow instructions?

7. What are some of the key leadership lessons you would want to pass along to others?

A vital responsibility of leaders is to develop the next generation of leaders. What do you wish to share with others? At your retirement party, what would you want your leadership legacy to be?

8. Who are the people in your life who make you a better person – and a better leader?

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Earlier, you considered leaders from your past who influenced you. Now focus on those people today – leaders, peers, subordinates, friends, relatives – who help you to be a better person and leader. Heed the advice of former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower, who said, "Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, and who see more clearly than you."

9. What are you reading?

It's crucial to always be reading, and learning. Whether books, magazines, trade journals or blogs, you must be widely read since you never know where your best new idea might come from.

10. Are you a good follower?

To be a good leader, at times you must be a good follower.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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