The ABCs of Leadership Development
Your future success as a leader depends upon your ability to translate feedback and awareness into a tangible development plan. Unfortunately, you probably have no idea where to start. After 20 years in the business of helping to transform leaders and organizations I am convinced, more than ever, that the ‘black box’ in bridging the gap between leadership potential and reality is development. There are endless solutions for acquiring feedback that point in the direction of change. There are, likewise, endless solutions for measuring and rewarding performance. What is most often missing is what happens in between - a fundamental understanding around how to move from leadership aspiration to reality. In essence, how to change behaviour. If you are a leader interested in how you can transform yourself, read on.
Step 1: Gain Clarity Around You Who Are and Who You Aspire to Be
Why should anyone be led by you? We don’t spend enough time asking ourselves who we want to be when we grow up and why we should be leaders. How can you tackle your development if you really don’t know who you are and what you stand for? I have had the privilege of working for leaders who ‘get’ this and the less-than-inspiring experience of working for those who do not. Quite honestly, there is nothing more frustrating or disillusioning than working for someone who really does not have an interest in developing their identity as a leader.
Defining Who You Are as a Leader
I will admit I can be a tedious leadership coach. When I am working with leaders in the context of personal transformation, before we even discuss where they should focus in terms of their development, I ask them to answer these questions:
Step 2: Setting Development Targets and Priorities
The goal of leadership development is to align intent with behaviour in order to achieve higher-order objectives in the context in which you find yourself. So often, leadership development springs from a mis-match between what a leader is striving to do and what is coming across to key stakeholders. The extent to which you are aware of and can objectively assess your development opportunities determines your ability to develop strategically and intentionally.
Questions leaders should ask before determining development priorities and next steps
Not everything that you get feedback on is worthy of development. I don’t particularly care what your 360 feedback, leadership assessment report or leadership coach have to say about how you need to change. Instead, I suggest you ask yourself a series of questions to get at the heart of where you should focus your development:
Making Change Stick
Where the rubber hits the road around personal development is translating your desired future behaviour into tangible action steps that will result in real change. I have seen a lot of development plans; I have seen a lot less actual development. If you are serious about actually transforming who you are as a leader, the very best resource I have found for changing behaviour is James Clear’s Transform Your Habits. My summary of how to translate development intent into sustainable behaviour change is:
Transform Your Habits (2nd Ed.). James Clear. www. jamesclear.com
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Rebecca Schalm, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO