Self-awareness and managing learning
Leadership development is a constantly evolving skill and involves continuous development. By finding out more about yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, you can get a better idea of areas you need to improve on. You can then develop a tailored plan that will guide you to where you want to be through increased self-awareness and behavior modification.
Good leaders know how to change their behavior. In order to change your behavior, you first have to become more self-aware. When your behavior changes, this increases your self-awareness. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Behavioral changes range in scope from becoming a better listener to creating an organization-wide change in attitude toward diversity. When you’re more aware of your behavior, you try to react more appropriately and are willing to use different approaches to situations.
As you develop your self-awareness as a leader, you expand your ability to manage your own learning. You can manage your own learning by creating a leadership development plan. When you make your own leadership plan, it should be documented and easily accessible. It should also be possible to change and adapt to changing circumstances.
Before embarking on a leadership development plan, you should find out how ready you are to commit to developing as a leader by considering the following:
- the attributes you have as a leader, such as: courage, empathy, optimism, self-control, and communication
- whether or not you’ll be able to implement and follow through on your plans for a sustained amount of time, 18 to 24 months is advised for best results
- whether you have the patience and perseverance to stick to the development process even when you encounter obstacles
Before writing the plan
You can follow a number of simple steps to prepare a detailed but easy-to-follow leadership development plan. Before writing the plan, you need to gather the necessary information from self-assessments to collate and analyze your data. Then, using this analysis, you articulate your vision and set objectives for your leadership development.
The first step is to collate and analyze your self-assessment data. By analyzing the data you’ve collated, decide which objectives to target for improvement over the next year. There are five elements you can consider: whether or not your work situation is helping or hindering your development at the moment, how to exemplify by setting an example to others, and ways you can use assessment to help with your development. Also consider the know-how and the education you’ve gathered already and how you can improve it.
Having collated and analyzed your self-assessment data, the next step is to try to articulate your vision for success and set objectives for realizing that vision. Think about your overall vision for the year ahead and for the next three to five years. Think about your personal vision for success and where you fit in the organization.
The next step is to write some solid objectives you want to achieve along the way to realizing your vision. Objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Writing the Leadership development plan
The next step in your leadership development is writing the plan. This involves setting developmental objectives in several competency areas. The plan is easy to prepare, as it can be broken down into different bite-size sections. As you write your plan divide it into three sections: your objectives for the future, your current and future responsibilities, and the time line in which you want to achieve things.
From your analysis, fill in your vision and SMART objectives. Then list your current responsibilities and what you feel future ones might be. Outline your time line for achieving objectives. Finally, pinpoint areas you want to work on for leadership character development.
Various areas of the leadership development plan need to be developed. Developing character should be the main focus of your plan. You need to identify the key competencies needed to build your leadership character. Also, outline how you’re going to lead by example. Consider how you’ll imitate behaviors of others in authority. Identify the behaviors you see as being desirable or successful. And finally, give examples of how you will expand your experience. Ask yourself what types of developmental assignments, stretch assignments, and professional readings you can do to grow and expand your leadership experience.
Implementing the Leadership development plan
There are two steps you can take to implement your development plan. First, communicate your plan to others. Then develop a system to monitor your progress.
When communicating your plan, it’s important to follow up to ensure it stays relevant and that implementation and long-term feasibility are possible. That’s why communicating your plan to a trusted friend or colleague will help it become more real for you. Telling a trusted person about your goals and vision is a symbolic way of motivating yourself to stick to the plan. Communicating and encouraging feedback makes the plan more real, symbolic, and will encourage adherence.
The next stage is to develop a system to help you monitor your progress. Always keep an eye on the plan, checking regularly where you are and what you’ve achieved so far. This gives a sense of accomplishment and of moving forward. There may be things you feel you learned that need to be added or things that you feel are of no use and need to be rejected. You’ll meet new challenges all the time so you need to adapt the plan as and when necessary. To keep motivation levels up, reward yourself for achievements.
To gain more leadership insights, click here