Self-development: The steps towards stronger leadership

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Successful leaders know that there is always room for improvement and make time for their self-development and learning no matter how far along in their career they are. We’ve identified 4 key steps that support continuous growth for you to follow as part of the self-improvement process.

  1. Where do I want to be?

Without understanding where and who you want to be, you will struggle to focus your development. Write down all of your aspirations and goals, no matter how outlandish they may seem; it’s useful to have a complete picture of your hopes and dreams even if they aren’t achievable in the short term.

Also think about who you want to be – are there certain behaviours you feel you need to work on to become a better leader? Do you want to develop elements of your emotional intelligence, for example to become more optimistic, or to have more control over your impulses? Visualise your ideal self.

  1. Who am I now?

The next step is to create a clear picture of who and where you are now. What are your strengths and weaknesses? It’s important to consider both your behaviours and personality traits as well as your hard skills.

Psychometric assessments can be useful in supporting you in creating a clear picture of yourself in terms of your personality, behaviour and emotional intelligence and help you to identify where your strengths lie and what you may need to develop.

360 feedback adds objectivity to your picture of your current self. Collect feedback from your colleagues, team, manager, customers, and anyone else you work with, around what they feel you excel in and what you could work on.

Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to bring it all together. A SWOT matrix, widely used in businesses, can also be useful for your personal development. By displaying your strengths and weaknesses alongside any opportunities and threats in your current environment, you’ll more easily be able to identify actions you can take as part of your self-development.

  1. Bridging the gap

So, you’ve identified where you are now and where you want to be – but how can you bridge the gap between these and make your leadership vision a reality?

The first step is setting objectives for yourself. We recommend following the SMART framework:

  • Specific – well-defined and focused
  • Measurable – identify criteria for measuring progress
  • Achievable – attainable and acceptable for you
  • Relevant – relevant to your ultimate goals
  • Timed – set yourself a reachable deadline

Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, actions need to be taken to get there. Ask yourself what training you may require and what support you need – would you benefit from coaching, or from a mentor who has already trod the path you’re on? Take action early on and keep the momentum going long term. There may be some quick wins, but developing yourself as a leader is a continuous process and you mustn’t forget the long game.

  1. Reflect and review

Setting your development plan and putting it into motion is only the beginning; your environment is constantly changing and so are you, so continuous evaluation is key to ensure your plan doesn’t drift. Review progress against your objectives monthly and tweak your goals and action plan appropriately. Collect feedback regularly. We recommend formally collecting 360 feedback once a year to objectively assess your strengths and weaknesses and how they are evolving.

Development is never complete! You’ve set yourself goals, but there is no one end goal, no leadership enlightenment to reach. Each time a goal is achieved, more will open up, so it’s important to regularly review and update your self-development plan.

Would you like to find out more about using our Thomas tools for employee development in your organisation? Simply click here and fill in the form, our team of experts will be happy to help.

Gabrielle Westhead

Gabrielle Westhead

Gabrielle, better known as Gabby, joined the Thomas family in April 2017 as the Content Executive. Outside of work, Gabby is involved in Buddhist and interfaith activities with the aim of helping make the world a more peaceful place.