How to Set Leadership Development Goals

Leadership development goals keep individuals and their organizations on track to maximize their potential.

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How to Set Leadership Development Goals

Real leadership doesn’t come with a title or a name or a position. It comes from team members who can inspire their coworkers to do and be their best. And it comes through an example founded on things like integrity, determination, goal setting, active listening skills, positivity, and self-discipline. As you observe your team, you may find a good leader even among the ranks of younger and newer employees. Identifying future leaders and helping them set leadership development goals can be a boon to your organization.

Even natural leaders aren’t born with all of the skills it takes to lead in difficult situations, which is why setting leadership goals for personal development is so important. It can help to sharpen the skills that you and your employees have while acquiring skills they don’t. You can become a more effective leader, and help inspire leadership in those around you.

This article will provide business leaders come up with a leadership development plan for themselves and other team leaders.

Leadership development goals for individuals

Even within the realm of daily personal responsibilities, individuals can improve skills or acquire new ones that can make their personal presence within their organization a force for positive change. Even if just one team member can set a good example for those around them. Here are some excellent personal development goals that can help employees become a strong leadership presence on their team, regardless of their current role or what role they aspire to.

Work on time management skills

Almost everybody can improve in this area. Demanding business environments force us to juggle multiple projects and deadlines without sacrificing quality. Leaders must manage their own time well and help team members to do the same. Effective time management fits into intelligent business strategy. There are several ways to achieve this goal:

  • Create a distraction-free environment as much as possible.
  • Prioritize activities: learn to separate mission-critical items from time-wasters
  • Set a timer for focusing intently on one critical task.
  • Communicate clearly to team members what the priorities are and challenge them to join you in timed work sessions devoted to those priorities.
  • Set internal deadlines that help everyone stay on task.

Demanding business environments force us to juggle multiple projects and deadlines without sacrificing quality. Leaders must manage their own time well and help team members to do the same.

Develop active listening skills

Active listening requires another great leadership attribute: humility. You approach each person you encounter throughout the day as if they possess important information that you don’t have. It’s more than just hearing what someone is saying; it’s listening to truly understand the meaning and feeling behind what they’re saying.

The author Steven Covey said it best when he said, “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” In other words, instead of formulating your response while the other person is talking, really listen to them and then even repeat back to them what you think they said. That way, you are sure you understand, and they can clarify if you didn’t. Use nonverbal cues to show that you’re truly listening: eye contact, nodding, smiling. This is a powerful leadership style move that will enrich all of your relationships.

Master self-discipline

A recent Wall Street Journal article outlined a 3-step plan for improving one’s self-discipline — a leadership and success attribute everybody needs in order to accomplish goals and leave bad habits in the dust.

  • Determine what really motivates you. Who do you answer to? What do you hold near and dear to your heart? What do you find worth fighting for?
  • Next, create a consistent, daily routine where you work on a goal you have in mind. Schedule the time and make it happen each day. Also, don’t get bogged down in worries about what you can’t control. Just focus on what you can control.
  • Finally, pick a mantra that inspires you and post it where you can see it all the time, or even memorize it. Positive self-talk can go a long way to helping you stay focused and motivated as you practice self-discipline.

These are just 3 of the many skills you can develop in your personal leadership development plan. One great idea is to invest time in reading some excellent leadership books that give concrete examples of successful leadership styles and how you can become a more effective team leader.

Leadership development goals for organizations

Leaders impact the entire organization and set the tone for success — or something less than that. While each organization will have its own unique goals, there are some great goals that every organization can set in terms of leadership that will help, no matter what your unique objectives are.

Promote resilience in difficult situations

Leaders are tested and proven in tough situations. It’s how they handle challenges and tough times that defines them and helps motivate their teams to endure and persevere. Difficulties can come from within (team members who have a bad attitude) or from without (global economic pressures). Great leaders handle situations like this by openly communicating, being flexible, and seeing opportunities where others see a crisis.

Leaders are tested and proven in tough situations. It’s how they handle challenges and tough times that defines them and helps motivate their teams to endure and persevere.

Model strategic thinking

Great leaders can see the “big picture” and not get waylaid by little distractions that may trip everyone else up. This is a talent that not everyone has, but everyone can improve on. Develop the ability to imagine the future possibilities that today’s actions could create from a wider perspective, and then communicate that vision clearly to team members by asking them questions about what they see as the 5-year results of work and actions taken today. Help them go beyond the “what” and through the “how” and into the “why” of your overall business strategy and the latent leaders in the team will start to emerge.

Build cross-functional know-how

Leaders constantly strive to improve their knowledge base. One complaint team members sometimes have is that leaders in the company do not understand the demands of their jobs. When leaders endeavor to learn those things, respect increases and something else exciting happens: striving for a better understanding of each other’s jobs. This enhances communication — which leads to better cooperation, new solutions, and innovation.

What are your top leadership development goals?

Figuring out your top leadership development goals can be challenging, and there will necessarily be company-specific goals tailored to the people, projects, and demands you face. Here are 3 tips for selecting and prioritizing your leadership goals:

Assess your future needs

Based on your business goals, how do you fill the gap you’ll need to cross as you move from where you are now to where you want to be? What training does your team need? Do you need to hire more people? What resources do you need?

Assess your current situation

Compared with where you want to go, where are you right now? What skills does your team need in order to boost their abilities most effectively and efficiently?

Assess your people

Your team members each possess a set of skills already, but what potential do you see in them? What kind of leaders do you want to develop for your future? Do you:

  • See someone on your team who already exemplifies the “servant-leader” model?
  • See someone who is strongly motivated and self-disciplined?
  • Have someone who does a great job of motivating fellow team members?
  • See someone who always gets their work done well and on time?

Identify your future leaders and help them to develop even more skills that can expand their leadership abilities in ways that benefit the whole company.

Building leaders for tomorrow

Great leaders love to help their employees develop their own leadership abilities through leadership development goals. If you need help starting the process of prioritizing or discovering your team’s potential leaders and developing a comprehensive leadership-development plan, reach out to Zenefits for help.

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