Leadership Development is a lifelong process: an endeavor that takes courage and commitment, an awareness of oneself and the need to foster one’s own skills. The process of development is a cycle of continuous, lifelong learning. Leaders that choose to take on the challenge of leadership and their own personal growth and development as a leader are able to achieve more. It is a process, an intentional one.
Most every leader is challenged in some way. Leadership is a people sport: people dynamics and when you involve people then there are challenges.
It begins with awareness or assessment: knowing where you are currently at. Awareness is a gift, knowing that you are not perfect, that there is room for growth and that you don’t know all of the answers for interacting with your team. Completing a leadership assessment can be a tool for digging a bit deeper into your current skills. Leadership assessment can be individual or with input from constituents. The goal is to see where there are strengths and where there is room for growth and focused skill development. Every leader possesses some skills and every (honest) leader has areas that could improve and areas for learning and growth.
Skill development is the next step: learning what the skills of excellent leadership are. Leadership skills can be learned especially with practice and refinement. True leadership skill acquisition can be accomplished through highly effective training. Participating in experiential training that includes time for learning and skill practice is important. Experiential because it will more likely give you the time to learn and practice.
Your workplace is your practice ground. Yes, you should try new skills on at the training. The training should be long enough to give participants enough time to practice, but once back in the workplace there are daily opportunities to use new skills. Executive Coaching following the training helps to ensure that new skills are used, new behaviors are adopted. It is so easy to move back into old behavior patterns.
Behavior is habitual. Even the most conscious leaders regress back to previous behaviors. Coaching or continued follow up is designed to give leaders a resource for receiving honest feedback and additional support in taking on new skills. Leaders are often alone. The executive coach provides a neutral person for the leader to consult with.
Leadership development is a lifelong learning process. Staff will always throw unexpected curve-balls for leaders to work through. Periodic assessment of skills is a great strategy for determining whether the leadership development plan has been effective in addressing the areas that needed attention. Assessment begins the cycle again. With a continuous plan for improving leadership and improving the workplace companies can achieve more than they set out to.
Leadership development is not just the responsibility of the company but also that of the leader. Leaders, themselves, have to recognize the need and the benefit to their leadership development. Leaders can create their own leadership development plan and review it each year. By implementing an intentional and focused leadership development plan, leaders improve the results they achieve for the businesses, their staff and teams. Investing in leadership development just makes sense.