Leadership Development: Crafting Your Personal Development Plan
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Efficient and effective leadership development doesn't happen by accident. No matter what situation you're in now, your development as a leader is up to you. And you'll do a better job of it if you have a plan.
Effective plans of any kind need to answer four basic questions. What's the current situation? What do I want to change? How am I going to do that? What might be fun to try?
In most textbooks, processes like this are presented as straight lines. You can do it that way, but you'll get better results if you consider the four questions as a system. Every time you come up with an answer for one, check to see if and how your new answer affects other answers.
What's the current situation?
This is no time to replace sober evaluation with blind self-confidence. It's certainly not time for self-delusion.
Evaluate your performance. Review your activities from the past year? What do you need to improve? If you've been evaluating your own performance all year, this will be easy.
Get help. Your boss will have some ideas. Get candid feedback from your peers. They know your work and contribution well. Consider some form of 360 degree feedback.
Check out Various Needs Assessments to Help Identify Leadership Development Goals from Carter McNamara.
What do I want to change?
Take the notes you've gathered from your assessment, but don't stop with them. Consider using some kind of a checklist to spark your thinking.
One of the best is in a recent post by Dan McCarthy, for my money the guru of leadership development programs. The post is "Top 12 Development Goals for Leaders."
How am I going to do that?
I thought to myself, "Why come up with the answer to a question like this, when I can ask Dan?" So I did. Here's what he said.
"Seek out mentors and experts. Learn from others.
Seek out new experiences. Look for "resume enhancing" projects and new responsibilities (on and off the job).
Don't stay in the same job too long, especially if you're not learning. Try to make sure that at any time 20 percent of your job is new and challenging.
Make sure you're always asking for feedback. Be a lifelong leadership learner, i.e., subscribe to leadership and industry blogs [like Dan's Great Leadership] and newsletters, read the latest books."
Courses are great, but they only give you ideas of what to apply on the job. Some of the most effective leadership development happens in developmental assignments. Sometimes they're permanent. Sometimes they're not.
Seek out opportunities to spend time with great leaders.
What might be fun to try?
As you do your planning, you'll come up with ideas that aren't fully formed or that don't make sense right now. Don't lose them. Put them someplace where you can go back and review them.
Ready to write your plan? Read Dan's post on "How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan."
Be sure to build frequent review into your plan so you can assess how you're doing.
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Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.