Three Steps to Growing the Leader within You
With the trend of leadership building, whether within a group or one on one coaching, it’s become imperative that entrepreneurs develop strong leadership skills to facilitate their success. Entrepreneurs who are not natural-born leaders can still find ways to build their leadership muscle. That being said, with the obligations of everyday life on top of being an entrepreneur it can be very hard to carve out time to take on leadership sessions. This raises an important question – can a person develop themselves into a leader on their own?
As a mother and an entrepreneur, my time is very limited and this was a question I had to seriously ask myself. The answer was – yes! Once I made the commitment, I then had to come up with a strategy and execution plan. How would I find the extra time, even with myself to develop my leadership skills. I quickly realized that to get the best use of my time I would focus on areas I knew were weak for me. When you work with a team or leadership coach most of your time in the beginning is spent discovering what your needs are and customizing a plan to your individual needs. You know yourself better than anyone else, this is one of the main reasons discipline and self-development can be successful.
Some of the most important skills in today’s leadership roles may not be as hard-core as you think. It’s important to make sure you are not overlooking what’s important to your successful growth. Because of the trend that modern work has taken soft skills such as; self-awareness, adaptability and relationship building have become the new hard skills to have. So, how do you create your own leadership development plan?
Step 1: Define your weaknesses
First do an honest self-assessment of your weaknesses. What are some of the things you see holding you back from growth as a leader. Do you lack assertiveness? Are you a bad listener or do you have a hard time communicating you thoughts and ideas to others? Maybe you have issues with all of these and then some, and that’s ok. The important thing now is that you identify these areas and start the process to improve.
Step 2: Choose development activity (s)
Create a development plan. Now that you have established what weak leadership areas you want to work on, develop a strategic plan that will catapult the change you’re looking for. This could include network groups, reading material, videos, project based learning or reaching out to mentors. Depending on the skill you are working on at any given time, you may even incorporate a few or all of these as part of your development plan.
Network groups: These are great because you have the diversity of people who come from different professions, cultures and thought patterns. You have the flexibility of meeting at a time that works best for you and there’s no pressure to perform. Network groups allow you to be yourself, absorb and learn from the individuals around you in a relaxed atmosphere. You might even want to try a CEO retreat. Be sure to come prepared with questions that will help you with ways to conquer a specific weakness.
Reading material: This is a great option in your development plan because of the variety of material available. You can easily target a specific weakness and find several different ways to deal with it. Again, you can do this at times that are convenient for you at your own pace.
Videos: This option gives variety, flexibility and visuals. If you are a person who prefers one on one instruction this is a great option. Some leadership videos come with exercises that you can do and in some cases you can contact the instructor with additional questions or advisement.
Project based learning: The best way to learn is by doing. This option is great because it allows you the diversity of working with others, and the verbal and visual examples to refer back to. Get involved in a project outside your comfort zone. Sign on in a role that will force you to develop a skill you are weak in. Solicit the support around you to work through and conquer your weakness while actually working.
Choose a mentor: Having a mentor is a lot like having a leadership coach but there are some advantages. A mentor does not cost you anything and you are not confined to set hours in an office to develop your leadership skills. With a mentor you can have endless access to conversations, experiences and honest feedback. One of my favorite things to do with a mentor is shadow them for a day. Actually seeing first hand how your mentor carries out their leadership role throughout a day is an experience that you can not put a value on.
Step 3: Monitor your progress:
Invite feedback from your employees or peers. Keep the feedback pool small. Limit it to a few who can be confidential and efficient. Have them answer a list of review questions or just ask for an informal assessment of how you’re doing. It’s good to always be aware of the impact you’re making on those around you. It’s recommended that you do theses type of reviews twice a year (every six months) so your first review should be six months after you start your leadership development plan.
Whatever development plan you come up with the key to your success is your dedication and hard work. Be consistent with your plan and remember that the ability to develop strong leadership skills within yourself is up to you.