Make Change Happen
As a leader, there’s no question you are busy developing your people, helping them achieve their maximum potential. That’s just part of your “role.” But when was the last time you took a good hard look at yourself to “get real” about who you are and what you want professionally and personally? If it’s been a while, schedule some time in your calendar to work on your professional development plan. A well defined plan makes it much easier to be about how well you’re maximizing your potential and, in particular, achieving your personal leadership vision. You’ll realize what’s working for you and what’s not. Plus you’ll gain clarity around how to leverage your strengths, overcome your weaknesses, and spot what you need to do.
Truly knowing yourself is a powerful lever for initiating personal growth and development. Over the years, many of the best business leaders I’ve worked alongside have always had an excellent sense of themselves—this was a common trait they’ve all shared. They’ve known their strengths and weaknesses, what they were passionate about pursuing personally and professionally, and what their values were.
These conscientious leaders have also consistently addressed stubborn, old habits. They disciplined themselves to adopt solutions for tackling obstacles, so they could meet goals and change for the better.
If this sounds like a strategy that would help your leadership, carve out the time to explore who you are, using the following guideposts to support your efforts:
Study the past. Thinking about your past successes and failures can provide much-needed transparency around what’s happened and position you both mentally and logistically for what you want to achieve. For example, say you’ve been a great communicator, a real star at persuading others to adopt your point of view. You’ve repeatedly used this skill in the past to sell your ideas and create excitement in others. Since good communication is vital to effective leadership, you might consider leveraging this strength to make progress toward your goals. Likewise, spotting pitfalls in behaviors and actions, noting patterns of self-defeat, could give you a chance to be candid about what you’ve done to trip up time and time again. And that precious self-realization, the ownership of your own role in any past transgressions, is vital. It’s a big part of what will inspire the mindful attitude you’ll need to quit bad habits for good.
Examine the present. To make a personal change that results in any sort of sustained growth, take a hard look at where you’re at now. Conduct a situation analysis to identify what you’re good at and what you are doing right. Think about your job and explore what’s been going well and why. Then shift your thoughts to determine what you’re not so good at, where you’re falling short in terms of your potential, and the choices you’re currently making that misalign with who you truly are and what you want from your work and career. By developing an accurate snapshot of your current situation, you will be in a better mental state to create a vision for your future.
Imagine the future. Do you want to be a better boss, someone who is highly respected, reliable, steadfast, and true? Or are you wishing to score your very first opportunity to lead people, a gig that will become a solid springboard for more future opportunities? Whatever your vision is of a “successful you,” picture the person you truly want to be. This would be the future version of you, who has accomplished your goals, feels in control of life, and found personal and professional fulfillment. How would that make you feel? In your vision, you hopefully have feelings of joy, confidence, and satisfaction. Use this powerful exercise, and the vision you imagine can unlock both inspiration and aspirations. Let this provide motivation and direction for where you need to go and how to stay on track as you evolve and plan your leadership path.
What factors hold you back from creating that vision of the future you—and why?