Friday, January 11, 2019

Leadership Development Goals for 2019

One of my most read series of posts is my somewhat yearly list of New Year’s development goals for leaders. I don’t go back and check previous years, so there may be duplicates, as there should be. Things like “striving to be a better listener” come up each year as I work with leaders from around the world.

In my coaching practice, I usually start with a 360-degree assessment and use that as to help leaders identify and choose their development goals. That’s the ideal way, especially for behavioral goals, where leaders usually are not aware of how they are coming across to those around them (“blind spots”) and are feedback starved.

However, there do seem to be leadership gaps that come up more frequently than others, and that’s what I base my yearly lists on.

If you can get feedback from others, good for you (see #2)! Even without doing a more formal diagnosis, it’s a safe bet that a few of the development goals listed below will help you become a better leader.  

Note that some may sound like just common sense and easy, but they are anything but. Changing habits is hard work, so I’d suggest starting with even one, and then working at it for at least 3 months, then move on to another.

I’ve included links to a few of my favorite articles, books and videos. For full disclosure, I do get a small cut of any of the books you purchase on Amazon (thank-you!), but they are all books that I’d highly recommend.

1. Define my personal leadership vision:
Google “what is leadership”, “leadership”, “qualities of a leader”, etc. and read at least 6 articles.
- Read at least one good leadership book.
Develop my own list of the characteristics that define the leader I want to become. 
Refine the list into a single paragraph, share it with others, and refine further.
Start working on becoming that leader!

2.  Get more feedback:
·         -Take a formal 360 leadership assessment.
·         - Find other ways to get informal feedback on a regular basis.
·         - When I get feedback, I’ll keep my mouth shut and say “thank-you”.

3. Ask more questions and listen more (OK, I cheated, this is two related goals…):
·         - Read “Leading with Questions”, by James Marquardt and put the practices to use.

4. Commit to “letting go” (and be less of a micromanager):
·         - Take the 20 question micromanager test
·         - Meet with each of my direct reports and ask (questions from Marshall Goldsmith):
1.    “Are there areas of your work where I am too involved?”
2.    “Are there areas of your work where I am not involved enough?”

5. Work more collaboratively with my peers:
·         - Read Would Your Peers Vote for You?
·        -  Meet with each peer to learn more about their goals, share my goals, and ask how we can work together to help each other achieve our goals.

6. Interview three leadership “role models”:
·         - Pick one aspect of leadership I want to get better at.
·        -  Identify three people I know who I think are good at it.
·         - Meet with all three to learn what they do and how they do it.
·         - Send thank-you notes. (-:

7. Become a better coach to my employees:
·        -  Learn about manager coaching (book, course, etc.).
·         - See #3 “asking more questions and listening”.
·         - Begin helping my employees solve their own problems (instead of me providing the answer).
·        -  Work with each employee to create an individual development plan.

8. Be more proactive and willing to tackle conflict:
·         - Read “Crucial Conversations”, by Patterson, et.
·       -   Select at least one tough conversation that I’ve been avoiding and apply the skills from the book.

9. Become more strategic:
Improve my ability to see the big picture and take a longer range, broader business perspective.
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.”
Learn to speak the “language” of strategy and apply these concepts to leading my organization. 
Read HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy and apply a strategic framework to my work.

Want some help with any of these? For you or for your organization’s leaders? Contact me ( to discuss doing a 360 degree leadership assessment, leadership coaching, consulting or training.

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