Where do you need to focus your leadership development efforts?

As a leader you are likely faced with new and challenging situations that test your resolve and your skills.  When this happens, where do you begin to focus your development efforts?  There is a wide range of development activities you can choose from, and usually leadership development efforts require you to focus on many of the following elements.  Review the list of development options and make a note of the one that makes the most sense for you.

1)      Cultural and Political Context – Being a good leader requires you to get a good handle on the cultural and political norms of your industry and organization.  Understanding the cultural context and political dynamics is an art that needs to be learned.  Learning how to quickly diagnose the political and cultural landscape and gaining skills to influence change is a common development opportunity for most senior leaders.

2)      Leadership Mindset – What you believe about leadership likely developed from your past work experience, your family, education and the media.  Understanding your mental models about leadership and what being a successful leader means to you is a valuable activity.  When you are keenly aware of the  kind of leader you aspire to be, and where you are now, it can frame your leadership development activities in a meaningful way.

3)      Style – How you present yourself as a leader is a combination of:  Your Personality, values, and character; Your life experience, background, past experience, and culture; and your habitual ways of acting.  Although your style may feel “fixed” it is not.  Style is learned.  Understanding your style and how it enables or inhibits you is a key component of most development plans.

4)      Skills – Skills simply represent what you can do.  If you want to take your career to the next level, you need to learn the core skills of your industry and craft.

5)      Relationships – Being able to adapt your style to allow for better interpersonal relationships is a component of effective leadership.  An inflexible style is often a source of conflict or can cause people to hit a brick wall in their career.  Creating effective interpersonal skills and developing your ability to create mutually satisfying relationships is never easy, yet it is key for leadership effectiveness.

6) Career Vision - How can you be an inspiring leader if you don't know where you are going, or if you feel lifeless and off track with your career?  Getting your career on a fulfilling and authentic track is the inner work that is required of all leaders.