- There is a lot of debate that often goes on about whose responsibility is it to develop a leader and his or her capability – the organizations or the individuals. Actually, it is the joint responsibility of the individual and the firm. There are many executive leadership courses online that can be chosen from. But the important thing to bear in mind is that, for any program to have an impact, there needs to be commitment and accountability towards the learning process. That also needs to have a strong foundation of wanting to up-skill and make the professional development process have a significant impact on the career.
How do you go about it?
Choose the Right Course
There will always be a series of courses to choose from and it can be mind-boggling especially as you may want to do many of those. But choose the right ones for yourself based on what is your priority in terms of developmental goals. That is the only way you can make your professional development impactful for your leadership success. Do not join up too many courses, so that you can ensure that you focus on the ones that have the highest impact on your career growth. You can choose the right one based on your interest area, developmental gaps, career aspirations and fitment to the business needs of the company.
Have a Career Vision
All the professional development that you undertake will only be useful if you have a career vision. What this means is that you need to start with career planning and visioning. That will help you work out where you aim to reach. That decision is what will impact your choices for professional development. Your vision could also include any aspirations for organizations that you admire and want to join, leaders whose qualities you want to imbibe or even networks that you believe are valuable for your learning.
Have a Mentor
Some top executives have mentors or business coaches assigned to them to guide them on their journey. Regardless of whether you have one or not, it is important to be able to find the right one. If there is a mentor assigned and you are comfortable with him or her, that is great. Utilize the insights they have for you and discuss your professional development options to gain an additional perspective. If you do not have a mentor assigned to you, find one. You may also find multiple mentors, but do ensure that you are able to leverage the relationship to understand better the way in which you want to use the developmental interventions you undergo. All such initiatives should have a direct or indirect impact on your career progression and discussing it with a mentor might provide that clarity.
Understand your Personal Motivators
Professional development yields result only when there is an underlying connection with the personal motivators for that individual. For example, if an individual is motivated by high levels of empowered decision making, the developmental course should be aligned to that. That is the way to maximize the learning from the course as well as for the person to be able to apply it.
Acknowledge your Past
What is your past learning experience? How have you used your professional development experiences in your work or role? These are important questions to answer. You need to be able to review and acknowledge how you have approached your own professional development in the past and if you have made the right choices that have then helped your career to move to another level. So make sure to go through that introspection and self-assessment.
Research about New Ways to Learn and Develop
Classroom sessions are not the first choice for many people now, leaders included. They work well for some topics and perhaps some individuals. But most individuals prefer a blended learning approach. So research about new and non-traditional ways to learn and develop your skills. It could even be something like attending conferences or panel discussions on topics that are emerging as trends in your area of work. It could be a mobile app or a game that focuses on situations that apply to your workplace and need you to interactively take decisions to move ahead. To find out how to learn, because it is these new approaches that will make your professional development actually count.
Open your Mind to other Areas and Functions
A big way to learn something worthwhile for your role as a leader is to open your mind to learning new areas and functions. These could be related to your current role or job area, or something totally unrelated. The reason to do this is that this will give you a diverse set of skills while also helping you learn how to channelise your ability to learn in more ways than one.
Professional development for leaders and managers has to be performance and results-oriented. This kind of approach is the only one that can ensure business alignment.