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A friend of mine works in an organization where developmental supports for leaders are triggered by two types of events: role transitions and problematic performance. Such supports, although helpful, focus narrowly on getting leaders aligned with the organization’s present expectations of them, and on ‘catching up’ in areas of immediate concern. Yet investments in ongoing leadership development bring much greater returns. Growing continually in areas that truly matter to us – whether it is fostering team play, practicing courageous authenticity, or being a more decisive leader – helps us serve successfully in progressively demanding roles.
What makes learning truly impactful at any stage of development is not the format – whether learning is formal, problem-driven, or experiential – but the drive. As individuals and leaders, we are drawn to subjects, puzzles and challenges that interest us, and that we are keen to make sense of, solve, and build upon. The most successful leaders share a developmental mindset – curious openness to new possibilities and perspectives – including the openness to unlearning. Learning involves letting go of what we had come to know or believe, and developing new frames of mind as we come to see the world from a new level.
So what drives your leadership, and how do you continue to grow? Beyond the opportunities available at work, what intention do you have for your development as a leader over the next year? When we reflect on our recent projects, most of us have one or two areas that we keep wishing we were better at: ‘I should have seen the bigger picture earlier on;’ ‘I wish I had engaged the other department sooner;’ ‘Taking the time to build a sponsor alliance would keep the project going much more smoothly.’ What recurring realization is coming up for you – and will you do with it? The development opportunities from which we shy away the most are often those we benefit from the most when we tackle them head on.
Be honest with yourself. Identify what aspects of your leadership are slowing you down, and build an intentional development plan around those. Invite honest feedback, set intentions, partner with a coach, and see your leadership effectiveness sprout! Make your next year truly successful and fulfilling!