Are you committed to your leadership development? Part II
Do you have a clear understanding of your strengths as a leader? Peter Drucker suggested we should work mainly on perfecting our strengths, as improving from first-rate performance to excellence is easier than making significant changes to areas we are not strong at. I particularly believe in the power of self-awareness, both in terms of our strengths and weakness, as the starting point for improving our leadership capacity. In a previous post, I proposed expanding our understanding of our leadership traits and behaviors and their impact on those we lead. In the final installment of this two-part series, I will discuss the next steps for constructing a personal leadership development plan, in which we take responsibility for our growth and improvement as leaders.
I understand my strengths and weaknesses. Now what?
Once you take stock of your strengths and areas for improvement, your next step should be to have a clear picture of your workplace context. Context is key to success, and you need to develop a good understanding of your company's culture, power distribution, key stakeholders, most valued behaviors and traits, and role models. Then, consider your characteristics and values and identify the common ground. Do you see yourself growing professionally in that environment? Your answer to this question will determine whether you should pave the way to grow within the company or look for other professional challenges.
Enhance your strengths and work on your areas for improvement
Identify how your strengths as a leader can be stepping stones to continue growing your leadership trajectory. Make sure these areas are discussed with your boss and senior management team in your annual performance evaluation. Invest in strengthening those behaviors and traits you find the most important. Additionally, work on a plan to build or improve the competencies you still lack. This might mean developing some skills yourself or building a team with a complementary skill set that will strengthen your whole group and highlight your leadership skills in terms of team-building.
Work on a plan to develop others in your team
Be attentive to your ability to develop others. Identify the high potentials in your team and work on a plan to help them grow. Advocate for your followers, encourage their development, promote their strengths, sponsor the most talented ones, and make the senior leaders notice the talents you have managed to identify and grow in your teams. Be supportive and demanding at the same time. Have high expectations for your employees, challenge their abilities, and champion them. Help them grow! Include this line of action in your own leadership development plan. After all, great leaders develop strong teams who can deliver outstanding results to companies.
Hone Your Soft Skills
A strong leadership development plan should include the work on essential soft skills. Active listening, practicing empathy, creating value in negotiations are some of the areas you need to develop or improve as a leader to face any organizational challenges that come your way. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation, resilience, flexibility, and complex problem-solving will continue to grow in importance in the workplace. Your plan needs to contemplate the strengthening of such skills.
Keep on investing in your abilities as a lifelong learner
Your education should always be part of a good leadership development plan. You need to identify professional development courses or certifications that will contribute to your leadership trajectory. You also need to consider programs that will help you build the foundation for future promotions and that, at the same time, will be opportunities for you to stretch your knowledge and learn from your professors and colleagues. MBAs are a good example of such programs. There are more advanced options, too. I have recently finished a DBA, which is a terminal degree program. That was the most challenging development program I have experienced as a lifelong learner!!! I am a much better professional today than when I started, but you need to be fully committed to the course if you decide that this kind of program is your next step. This course was possible because it was part of my leadership development plan for a while, and I had the determination to look for the best option for me at that point in time.
What about you, are you really committed to your professional growth? Have you already started working on your self-development plan? Share your experiences with us by leaving a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.
 Drucker, P. (1999). Managing oneself, Harvard Business Review. 100, 0017-8012.  Gavin, M. (2019). 5 steps to creating a successful leadership development plan. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 11/23/2021. 5 Steps to Creating a Successful Leadership Development Plan (hbs.edu).