While I would love to say that the longer you are in a position of leadership, the easier it becomes, that simply isn't true. The best leaders are ones that look at themselves frequently, review their strengths and weaknesses, and create a plan for how they can improve their skills.
So, today I want to go over an exercise that I do with my own key team members and that I encourage all of our business coaching clients to do with their leaders.
Step 1: Identify One to Three Key Leadership Growth Goals
Looking at the year ahead, which one to three key leadership growth goals, if you were to accomplish them, would have the greatest positive impact on your development as a leader? Write them down on a piece of paper.
Don't put more than three goals down, as it is very unlikely that you will be able to work on more than three in a given year. In fact, it's perfectly acceptable to pick only one or two development goals for the year. In essence, you are concentrating on the highest-value areas to improve on as a leader over the coming 12 months.
Step 2: Score Your Current Progress
Once you have your goals on paper, you want to give yourself a score on how well you are doing in each chosen area. Think of this as a quick way to get a pulse on where you think you stand on each of your chosen leadership goals.
Simply rate yourself 1 to 10 where you currently stand on each skill, ability, or goal. Considering where you are starting from and the energy and attention you are willing to invest, what do you want your 1 to 10 score to be in each of your three leadership goals at the end of the coming 12 months?
Step 3: Look at Your Current Strengths and Deficits
Now that you have laid out your goals for the year, and have a good idea of how much time and energy it's going to take to improve on those skills, you want to look at your current strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself here. If you lack a certain skill, write it down and then work toward improving it.
When you think about this specific leadership growth goal, what current strengths do you bring to bear? For example, maybe you are very disciplined, or capable of intense focus, or relatable with your peers. Maybe you have an experienced mentor, or belong to an industry group, or have a great business coach. Essentially, what you're doing is taking a quick inventory of the positives you bring to the table that you can use to help you succeed in this development goal.
Once you have the positives down on paper, it's time to look at the deficits. For example, do you struggle to focus? Have an overfull to-do list? Struggle asking for help? Have certain default tendencies or habits that could get in the way? By laying out these types of obstacles in the way to each development goal, you are clarifying some of the steps you'll likely have to take over the coming 12 months as you work to reach your leadership growth goals.
Putting It All Together
This simple exercise of putting your goals down on paper and identifying where you currently stand and what tools and skills you have at your disposal will go a long way to helping you become a better leader and mentor for your team. We encourage our coaching clients and key team members to review the list at least once a quarter to see what improvements have been made and lay out a game plan for the quarter ahead to reach their goals faster.