Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year’s Leadership Development Goals 2018 Edition

The beginning of a new year. A fresh start! For many leaders, it’s a time to reflect on accomplishments for the past year and establish goals for the upcoming New Year. 

It’s also a good time to set leadership development goals, either as part of a formal development planning process, or just because it’s a proven way to continuously improve as a leader.

While leadership development goals should always be specific and relevant to the individual leader and linked to the organizational context, there are a few common ones that most any leader could benefit from.
This year’s edition includes one action step to take for each goal.

1. Become more self-aware (and aware of others). I’ll learn more about my strengths and weaknesses. More about my own emotions and how to control them, about other’s emotions and how I am coming across to others, and how to harness this awareness of self and others to be a better leader. I’ll take a multi-rater assessment or figure out some other way to get an accurate assessment as to how I am perceived by others. I’ll take stock of my values to become clearer on what really drives my behaviors and what’s important to me.

Action step: I’ll take at one assessment.
2. Delegate more. My unwillingness or inability to let go is causing me to work long hours, preventing me from having the time to be more strategic, and is retarding the development of my team. I’ll do some serious self-reflection, or work with a coach or mentor, to figure out what’s causing me not to delegate. Is it my own ego? Is it a lack of confidence in my team? Once I get to the root cause, I will create a list of everything I do and make hard decisions on what to delegate, who to delegate to, how to do it, and by when. I’ll have conversations with each direct report and my manager, asking them for their input on what they think I should be doing less or more of.

Action step: In order to begin the process of learning to let go, I’ll let my dining companion order my meal the next time I eat out.

3. Be more strategic. I’ll improve my ability to see the big picture and take a longer range, broader business perspective. I’ll learn to step back from the day-to-day tactical details of my business and focus on the “why”, not just the “what” and “how.” I’ll learn to speak the “language” of strategy and apply these concepts to leading my organization.
Action step: I’ll read one book on strategy and apply a strategic framework to my work.

4. Be a better listener. I need to learn to pay attention and demonstrate to others that that I value what they have to say. I’ll use active listening, open-ended questions, body language, and eliminate distractions that get in the way of my ability to listen.

Action step: I will put down and mute my smartphone during meetings and conversations (at home and at work).

5. Become a better negotiator. I’ll learn the “art and science” of negotiation, and use proven negotiation techniques to collaborate and reach win-win outcomes with my manager, direct reports, peers, suppliers and customers.
Action step: I’ll learn a proven negotiation framework and apply it to one personal and one business opportunity.

6. Learn to resolve conflict. I need to stop avoiding conflict – and start dealing with conflicts head on in a more constructive way. I’ll learn different approaches to dealing with conflict – my preferred approach – and how and when to use more effective approaches. I’ll then apply what I’ve learned and tackle a lingering conflict that needs to be resolved.

Action step: I’ll learn a conflict resolution process and apply it to a nagging business issue that I’ve been avoiding for way too long.

7. Be a better coach. I need to spend more time coaching and developing my team. I’ll shift my leadership style away from always directing and telling and learn to guide and develop my direct reports. I’ll learn and practice the “G.R.O.W.” coaching model with each of my direct reports until it becomes natural and a part of my leadership style.
Action step: I’ll practice asking more open-ended questions and giving less advice when my employees come to me with problems.

8. Develop my team.  I’ll learn more about what it really means and takes to become a high performing “team”. I’ll do a formal team assessment to learn about our strengths and weaknesses, then work with my team to establish an action plan to improve. Possible improvement areas: building trust, establishing structure and processes that encourage and enable teamwork, and practice “shared leadership”.
Action step: I’ll conduct a session with my team (or any team I’m on) to develop a list of team norms.

9. Lead Change. I’ll learn from the classics: John Kotter, William Bridges, Peter Senge and others and apply these proven models and techniques to a significant change that I need to drive this year.
Action step: See above.

10. Stretch myself with a “strategic challenge” project. Work with my manager to come up with a developmental “learn by doing project”. Something above and beyond my regular duties that gives me an opportunity to learn and apply new leadership skills. I’ll apply many of the skills I’ve been working on under “live fire”, where the risks and rewards are high.
Action step: Select at least 3 of the goals above, complete the steps and apply what I have learned to a specific challenge or project.

Do any of these leadership development goals sound like they benefit you? If so, does it look overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. You can work on all 10 at the same time during our 6-day Leadership Certificate program! The program includes a 360 assessment and other assessments with one-on-one coaching. My colleagues and I at the University of New Hampshire will work with you to develop each of these critical skills and more! Learn leadership lessons from best in class business school faculty, executive coaches and peers using a proven leadership development model. I hope to see you at our next program in the fall of 2018!

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