“The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual.” ~ Samuel Smiles, 1859
So much advice about leadership and management is based on generalities about what is involved and how you should do better in relation to such external considerations.
Though useful, I think focusing first on your particular possibilities and preferences, as well as your situation, is a more productive place to start. You’ll also feel more motivated to take action.
For example, choose among the following:
- Name the specific management and leadership strengths that are important in your current situation and probably for your future.
- Appreciate the management and leadership strengths you have and the specific abilities you want to develop further.
- Identify and organize ways to develop those specific abilities.
- Assist individuals, groups and organizations to improve performance and outcomes because guiding others is often the best way to learn yourself.
Since management and leadership abilities often overlap and reinforce one another, you may consider them together.
Nevertheless, one difference is that effective leaders tend to inspire others and influence the big picture in the present and future. Effective managers do this too, but they are more focused on getting the work done through others.
For each category listed below, jot down up to five of the most important abilities you need to be effective in your work. On a scale of 1 to 5 (highest), circle the number that reflects your current level of mastery for each, based on how you perform in supportive or at least neutral situations. Be generous rather than hard on yourself in your self-evaluations.
- Working with people
- Working with ideas and information
- Working with things, products and services
- Taking goal-related action
- Enhancing professional qualities and behavior
Appreciating your strengths
- Check all abilities that you labeled 4 or 5.
- Identify any you want to take to level 5.
Preparing for further development
- Highlight every ability you have labeled 1, 2 or 3.
- Consider whether or not you want or need to develop each one further, checking the ones you do.
- List the ones you will develop further in order of importance to you, your work situation and your professional development.
When these three criteria are met, you’ll see which abilities are best to put at the top of your list. Identify what level of mastery you seek for each of these top priorities and at least two sources to support your development (e.g. workshops, mentor, projects for stretching, self-directed learning).
Image: ryangs via Flickr, Creative Commons
Ruth M. Schimel, Ph.D. launched her career and life management consulting practice in 1983, using an original process to help clients honor their complexity. In 1998, she founded The Schimel Lode, encouraging innovation and collaboration for the public good in the Washington, D.C., area. Ruth has previously been a professor, diplomat and management consultant, and is writing a series of books based on her dissertation on how people can express their courage.