Developing leadership potential is fundamental to an organization’s success. To ensure you approach this responsibility appropriately, start with a perspective that the development journey is infinite. Visualize it as a continuous and limitless journey that will flex its direction according to both individual and organizational priorities. This mindset will get you well on the way to a transformational experience and tangible results.
Too often, leadership development is solely focused on fixing current gaps. This narrow perspective limits the results and, often leads to dissatisfaction from the person being developed and his organization. Instead, leadership development should emphasize building sustainable skills and behaviors that will facilitate both short and long-term success.
Incorporate the following simple best practices to ensure you are approaching development with a mindset that encourages an infinite learning loop.
Initiate Career Dialogues
Plan frequent discussions with your supervisor to ensure she is aware of and supports your career goals. Obtain her feedback regarding paths to attaining your goals and possible organization roles or assignments that would support developing critical skills. Ask for both perceived strengths and development priorities. These conversations should help to validate your aspirations and ensure alignment with the organization’s view of your potential.
Tip: Don’t rely on the typical annual performance appraisal discussion; schedule these dialogues on a quarterly basis and as major changes occur in the organization. Remember, you are the driver in your development.
Create a Career Development Plan
Use the insight gained from the career dialogues and build a development plan with the ultimate career goal identified and clearly reflected in the stretch actions to be undertaken. Define the skills and behaviors needed at each career step leading to the goal. Having an articulated path will facilitate confidence that the goal is attainable and provide a reference point for measuring progress.
Tip: Remember that the plan should be evergreen; be prepared to adjust as your own aspirations and the organization’s priorities shift. This is an infinite learning loop that curves and adjusts.
Seek Key Stakeholder Feedback
Integrate others’ perceptions of your performance and leadership style into your development planning. To be successful, a leader must balance the interests of multiple stakeholder groups and work effectively within organization dynamics.
Tip: Leverage a leadership coach or your HR business partner to facilitate gathering feedback from stakeholders and presenting to you in a way that helps shape your development focus.
Assess Strengths and Development Needs
Utilize established leadership profile tools to provide an objective and benchmarked measure of your strengths and development needs. Incorporate these findings into your own organization’s expectations to pinpoint which strengths to leverage and potential derailers to address.
Tip: Identify what data is most critical to obtain as you build out your development plan. Partner with a certified practitioner to implement the assessment and then debrief the results to help inform development planning.
Starting with these techniques can help you establish a mindset that developing leadership potential requires infinite learning loops. Aim to build a development plan that goes beyond your current role and, instead, addresses both present and future leadership responsibilities.
By definition, infinity is never-ending; it symbolizes continuous connection, energy and vitality.
Imagine leadership development that emphasizes these traits. Realize your infinite potential!