Successful leadership and adaptation feed on the opportunity to learn. Good leaders never slack off learning, they make it conscious, and they take every opportunity to apply it… Leader is or ought to be synonymous with 'learner.'
URSULA G. LOHMANN, PhD
Former Dean of Academics at the Army Management Staff College
Who is the person and leader you want to become this year?
As we stride into 2024, it's crucial to contemplate the leader we aspire to become. Are we merely passengers on the journey of personal and professional growth, or are we actively steering our own development?
Let's embrace the challenge of ownership over our evolution. Committing to this path not only fuels motivation and engagement but also sharpens focus, cultivates relationships, expands skill sets, and advances careers.
Here are five indispensable strategies to empower yourself for a triumphant year ahead:
1) Clarify and Contemplate Your Purpose
A clear sense of purpose is the cornerstone of impactful leadership. It is linked to self-actualization, overall well-being, and higher engagement at work. Purpose-driven leadership not only enhances individual satisfaction but also boosts team performance and organizational success. Many have listed purpose-driven leadership as one of the key leadership development trends for 2024, including Forbes and Sylvia Lafair PhD, CEO of Creative Energy Options Inc.
You can't contemplate what you don't have. Start by crafting your Life Mission, Leadership Philosophy, and Core Values Statement. These foundational elements will not only guide your daily leadership but also shape your growth trajectory. Reflect on your purpose regularly, fostering self-awareness—an essential trait for effective leadership.
Contemplating your purpose implies a certain level of self-awareness; another key competency you may want to consider. A regular, consistent contemplative or meditative practice was identified as a characteristic of the most effective and agile leaders by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs in their book, Leadership Agility.
Your Life Mission, Leadership Philosophy, and Core Values Statement should be the main driver of not only how you want to show up as a leader everyday, it should also direct your growth and development.
If this competency is a developmental opportunity for you, consider enrolling in The Purpose-Driven Leadership Program. It's a powerful, enriching, empirically-driven, and engaging leadership development experience. In this transformative program, you'll discover and unlock the profound impact of both leading with and through meaning and purpose. It can be delivered completely online and on-demand, hybrid, or as in-person workshops—whichever best meets you and your team's needs.
2) Seek Constructive Feedback
I call leadership feedback leadership gold. View feedback as invaluable currency in the realm of leadership development. Actively solicit feedback from diverse sources, including supervisors, peers, and subordinates. Embrace both informal conversations and structured assessments like 360° feedback tools, such as the Leadership Practices Inventory or LPI360.
Harness insights from industry experts, leadership blogs, and organizational resources. Feedback serves as a compass, guiding your developmental journey and illuminating areas for improvement.
3) Set Developmental Goals and an Action-Plan
Identify key behaviors and skills pivotal to your leadership journey. Set both short-term and long-term goals aligned with your aspirations. Consider your current competencies and envisage where you aim to be.
Where are you currently in terms of your skills, competencies, and behaviors? Where do you want to be? Consider what career achievements you want to accomplish and by when. What metrics do you need to be focusing on and what do you need to learn and/or boost in order to achieve them? How does your life mission and core values drive what you focus on?
Don't procrastinate! Develop an action-plan and work it into your calendar. Block time and hold it sacred. This is your personal and professional development time and you deserve it. Leverage the Eisenhower Matrix, popularized by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Some of your goals may be Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) and need to be broken down, maybe even over several years. That's okay. Others may be as simple as enrolling into a course and taking it. But block the time and take action. And, ask yourself how you are going to hold yourself accountable, what other resources you need, and who can help hold you accountable.
4) Volunteer for stretch assignments and projects
Volunteering for challenging, stretch assignments and projects, while on the surface may appear risky, can have huge payoffs in terms of development and career advancement. Take for example the director of an emergency room I worked with who took on the project of reducing a persistent patient wait-time issue.
You might think, why is that a stretch-project to take on? Any ER trying to address wait-times has not only internal systems, structures, processes, and people to contend with but almost every upstream and ancillary department in the hospital. A slow lab or radiology department, patient transportation, admissions, administration, receiving floors, surgical services, staffing issues, and even environmental services (cleaning) can impact patient flow through an ER. This type of conundrum for hospitals is so notorious that it inspired an experiential learning activity and game called Friday Night at the ER.
Needless to say, this director ended up partnering and working with so many stakeholders in her hospital from the Chief Nursing Officer and VP of Patient Services to frontline hospital cleaning service workers. By the end of the project, not only had they reduced wait-times in the ER, but almost everyone in the hospital had firsthand working experience and a deeper relationship with her. She developed skills and competencies she never had before and set herself up for future success.
5) Embrace Coaching
Unlock the full potential of your leadership journey through personalized coaching. Engage with a seasoned professional who offers inquiry, support, and empathy while helping you gain clarity, focus, strategy, and accountability . Coaching provides a confidential space for reflection, goal setting, and skill enhancement. Leverage coaching as a catalyst for accelerated growth, navigating challenges with clarity and confidence.
You can learn more about coaching with me here: Coaching with Alan
As we embark on this journey of leadership excellence, let's continue to learn, adapt, and evolve. Share your strategies and aspirations for 2024 in the comments below—let's inspire and empower each other to reach new heights.
Have an amazing journey today!
Alan Mikolaj is a seasoned coach and leadership development consultant with nearly 20 years of experience. He is passionate about helping leaders transform their leadership, their teams, and their organizations. He has an impactful, professional approach driven by a passion for meaning and purpose, a growth mindset, and a commitment to excellence and service in order to drive change and results.
Alan holds his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and Associate Certified Coach credential with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and maintains their ethics and standards of behavior, including the standards regarding confidentiality. You can learn more about them on the ICF website.
Transformational change starts with a conversation!
Alan is on a mission to partner with like-minded leaders who want to make a positive difference in the world. Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email: Contact Page
Alan Mikolaj is a a professional, experienced, positive, and passionate speaker, leadership and organizational development consultant, change agent, author, and coach. He holds his Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Sam Houston State University. He is a certified graduate coach from Coaching Out of the Box and holds his ACC and membership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Free Discovery Conversation!
Impactful change starts with a conversation! Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email: Contact Page
In his third book, A Travel Guide to Leadership, Alan offers you simple, fundamental, and powerful lessons that have the power to transform you, your relationships, and your career.