Assessing Yourself and Your Environment

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A leadership development plan is a map that guides you on your journey to fulfill your leadership potential. You benefit because the plan keeps you disciplined, focused, and motivated to accomplish what you need to in order to grow in your leadership abilities. The first activity in creating a leadership development plan involves assessing yourself and your environment. This activity involves assessing yourself as a leader, establishing a vision of yourself in the future, and identifying obstacles on your leadership journey.

Assess yourself as a leader

If you’re going to become the leader you aspire to be, you must start with self-knowledge and assess yourself as a leader. Through self-assessment you’ll get to know those dimensions of yourself that you’ll call on in order to lead others and make others want to follow you – your values, leadership style, motivators, and key competencies.

Values are beliefs and attitudes that define who you are. They govern the practices you use every day in everything you do. Discovering what your values are is an important output of a leadership self-assessment. You can identify your values by using a four-step process

  • Make a list of everything in life that’s important to you. Don’t edit yourself . This kind of thinking gets the words flowing, and can bring to the surface the values you may be hiding from yourself.
  • Repeat the exercise, but this time, be selective and think about your values.
  • Pick out the five most important values and list them in order of importance.
  • Define what each value means to you.

Your leadership style grows out of your values; it’s the way you interact with people to give direction, implement plans, and motivate your staff. Good leaders adapt their styles to suit specific situations. You need to know what your natural leadership style is so you can learn to adapt yourself to different situations. To identify your style, you can use one of the many questionnaires and survey instruments available. Three of the main ones are authoritarian, participative, and delegating

  • Using the authoritarian style, you, as the leader, make all the significant decisions, including how jobs are performed.
  • With the participative style, you ask employees for their opinions before making the final decision.
  • With the delegating style, you allow employees to make the decisions as appropriate.

Identifying your motivators is important. Some of the things that motivate leaders are compensation, titles, perks, social status, helping others, doing a good job, and winning. The process of identifying your motivators is similar to the way you brainstormed your values. First, you make a list of everything that motivates you. Then, evaluate your list and identify your top five motivators.

Establish a vision

Successful people achieve success in part because they visualize who they’ll become in the future. These visions are strong motivators for doing what needs to be done over the long term to make the vision reality. Important approaches to establishing a vision include imagining your future, talking to people to find out what they think a leader should be, and doing some long-range planning. You can begin the process with some focused daydreaming

  • Imagine it’s ten years in the future. You’ve achieved your potential and become the leader you’ve always wanted to be. Write a story to describe your vision of yourself.
  • While you’re dreaming, think about your legacy. Project your mind out to the end of your career. What do you want people to say about you after you’re gone? How must you start living now in order for that to happen?
  • When you’ve finished writing your story, summarize the vision so it’s easy to remember. Think of something or someone that symbolizes it. Keeping your personal vision in mind is highly motivating.
  • After creating your vision, you need to talk to other people about it. Other people can provide valuable feedback about things you might want to change about yourself as you go forward.

Identify Obstacles

Obstacles can be both internal and external to you, as well as within your control and outside of your control

  • Internal obstacles are thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that can prevent you from moving forward.
  • External obstacles are situations or conditions outside of yourself that can prevent you from achieving your goals.
  • Nearly all internal barriers are within your control.
  • The barriers outside of your control are largely external. These are things you have no influence over.

It’s fruitless to fret over barriers you can’t control. Focus on the ones you have some control over. There are three proven techniques for dealing with obstacles:

  • Decide what you’re willing to give up to eliminate the obstacle.
  • Identify hidden opportunities that could help you face the obstacle.
  • Chunk the problem into manageable pieces, so you can deal with each smaller piece separately. You could also compromise. This would enable you to accomplish two seemingly divergent tasks or goals at once.

By breaking obstacles into manageable chunks, assessing the sacrifices you’ll have to make to overcome them, and finding hidden opportunities, you’ll be able to transform obstacles into a doable set of tasks.


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