Driving teams toward peak performance requires a tremendous amount of planning, motivation and, most importantly, effective leadership. With so many moving parts to consider (i.e., individual skill sets, departmental structures, technological applications and beyond), learning leaders’ own personal development can become a difficult process to stay on top of. However, by adhering to a simple, three-step plan to guide the broad strokes, you can better condition yourself and your people to deliver knockout results.
Learning leaders are often so focused on developing programs and plans for learners that they skip factoring in the most important element: their own personal development. Looking inward helps you maximize your strengths, reach your potential as a leader and better impact your team. Meanwhile, displaying measurable growth in the areas of management and supervision can help instill confidence in your stakeholders and even inspire a raise or promotion.
The most valuable benefit of self-reflection is its direct path toward going toe-to-toe with and breaking down your weaknesses – which you can accomplish through emotional intelligence, behavioral or 360-degree assessments. Direct feedback is another great source for internal development. Ask peers and superiors whom you trust for their honesty for evaluations that spotlight areas of contribution and areas that need growth. Then, establish at least three or four innovative ways to think and move lighter on your feet.
Looking outward means assessing the current state of the entire organization and deciphering how to best serve the greater good. Here, it is important to consider both the collective and individual contributions and actions that have brought victories, as well as those that have fallen to the wayside. As digital transformation becomes the norm across industries, leaders should also examine which looming changes to the brand may require reskilling, retraining or additions to the organizational chart. Finally, it is always good practice to crunch the numbers and explore whether the company is hitting its projections or falling into a financial hole.
The bottom line? Leaders have to take a step back and soak in a panoramic view of the workplace environment, from interns to CEO, in order to better grasp company needs. From there, it becomes easy to come up with a few additional skills to help teams go on the offensive, close problem gaps and reinforce strengths. By focusing on these skills for a full 12 months, for example, leaders can ensure a formidable fight against almost any external challenge.
Only after looking inward and outward can we move forward. The roadmap to reaching your full potential as a leader is long and wrought with challenges, but fortitude and endurance come with the territory. Like a boxer in training, you can find a lot of great coaches, exercises and lessons along the way. A great way to stay in shape is through creating an official regimen, or complete list of personal goals, to help push you and your team into top fighting condition.
By writing your goals and keeping them handy for review, you can make self-evaluation easy to remember and stay on top of. At the same time, ongoing check-ins with employees, colleagues and supervisors offer an excellent stream of feedback to affirm accomplishments, raise awareness of any leadership issues, and help you stay accountable and responsible for your actions. Keep in mind that while shying away from difficult feedback is a tendency many of us are prone to, facing our flaws is an important part of the development process. Although it can feel like an uppercut to the jaw, criticism is powerful.
Learning leaders intent on positively influencing their teams and their organizations should consider revamping their personal developmental plans every 12 months. This time period is usually enough for a full assessment to measure substantial growth and results. Along the way, there will undoubtedly be company shakeups, directional changes and individual employee issues to deal with. However, by following these three steps, you can avoid the jabs while staying aware and agile throughout the ups and downs of all four quarters, effectively rolling with the punches.