Little steps towards Personal Development

Personal development can seem like an extremely difficult task to undertake. Where do you start? How do you make progress? Recently, I have been making my own personal development journey and I wanted to give you an insight into my journey.

As a Leader, I think it’s my responsibility to always look for the improvements that I can make to my own career, my own leadership style and more importantly how I can be a more effective leader for my teams. In the past, I have worked with coaches and mentors to be able to guide me and support me in identifying my weaknesses and what I can do better. Right now, I still work with a coach who guides me and supports me on this journey.

Where do you start?

I think the best place to start is looking inwards and identifying the areas that you’d like to improve and work on. You need to look at the important areas that will add the most value to you/your teams but also what is feasible and possible to change. Based on this list, I then look at feedback given during performance reports/ 360 reviews with your peers as this can offer a valuable insight into what your peers think of you and any areas that you may have missed in your own self reflection.

If you are within an organisation that has a Professional Development Program, it can be worthwhile seeing if there are any tools, trainings or programs that you can follow that will help your leadership journey. With the teams and individuals that I have worked with, there has been a varied level of support and initiatives that leaders can follow to improve their own skills and personal development.

What do you mean by little steps?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -> Chinese Proverb.

I mean, let’s start at the beginning! Longer lasting development that will truly work, is often established with small strategic improvements in a longer period of time. By making smaller changes, this can help those changes stick and become part of your daily routine which in the longer term are more effective than drastic changes or adjustments. In my own career, I have tried to make small adjustments, changes to my behaviour or how I communicate and verify if this is successful and more importantly, if it makes me a better leader. Here are a few examples of the small changes that I have made that have helped me:

  • Adjusting my working day based on my productivity levels / schedule
  • Re-evaluating my meetings and making sure that:
    • The meeting is needed
    • There is value being gained from it
    • The right people are in the meeting
    • There is a clear agenda and follow up
  • Look at different communication styles for different teams and understand what works/ if there’s a better way of working
  • Trying to appreciate one colleague per week and let them know I appreciate them
  • Work at changing my own inner dialogue when issues arises or when I need to be more positive

All of the things mentioned above do not look significant, but when you combine them all together, they make a mighty change to my ability as a leader to perform, guide and support my teams to be able to deliver our projects and initiatives.

What are some of the skills needed today?

I’ve been working with peers and different leaders in the past few months and there are some themes that I am seeing that are needed for greater personal development and leadership skills:

  • Learning how to lead in a virtual environment
  • Teambuilding virtually
  • Onboarding new team members virtually
  • Remote leadership / leading conflict virtually.

I’m planning in the next few weeks to cover blogs on these topics, so stay tuned for this content!

Embrace Failure

Along this journey you will make mistakes. Some things will not work or will need adjustments made. This isn’t a bad thing! I embrace this failure because you are learning what works for you and your teams. These skills are not wasted! You can potentially reuse them later on, in another project or in another organisation. You are also able to build you own personal skillset for what works best for you as an individual.

I strongly believe that it’s the responsibility of every leader to find, build and embrace their own personal ‘toolbox’ of skills. The role of becoming a better leader is yours alone and it can all begin with one single step of improvement.

What are you going to improve or change in your own ‘leadership toolbox’?

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