We need to build our leadership development programs – how we manage our processes of enrolment or entry into a programs of leadership development and how we design them to match our best understanding about what we enjoy and what we are good at doing.
Our role as leaders is essential. The organisations, communities and contexts we will be a part of in our lives will depend on our work. Our leadership needs to impact positively on the lives of others, increase the efficacy of everything we are involved in, and contribute to bringing people together under a shared vision and purpose. This is a role for which one day we will be responsible, and one we need to commit to mastering now. We need to build a program that will give us the capacity to direct, inspire, influence, and motivate others to achieve a common task.
Before we start to pursue our leadership development in a meaningful way, however, we must first value it. Recognising this must precede our work to develop as a leader. This is because we all need a compelling 'reason why'. Even as leaders, we are less likely to engage in a long-term or difficult task without first understanding the reason why we need to do it and what will be achieved as a result of it.
Researching and identifying leadership courses and programs that are offered in our immediate vicinity is one of the early steps towards developing a program. Knowing what is available gives us a picture of the different directions we can take. Certain courses and programs will lend themselves to further building our strengths, while others will present opportunities to cover our weaknesses and improve the completeness of our leadership. This research needs to be self-driven but there are ways we can make it more effective, especially in seeking the advice of our mentors, counsellors, and leaders.
"The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first."
Many of these people in our lives will have helpful suggestions for our improvement. Constructive criticism, especially when it is based on evidence, can give us an understanding of what we should look to improve, while recommendations for specific programs can help us find a path on which we might embark. These opportunities exist within our schools, universities, social activities, community organisations, and workplaces. They just need to be found.
We also must be conscious of maintaining a broad outlook on our leadership learning. Focusing on specific skills and techniques we want to learn and improve can be important in learning effectively. Nonetheless, it is essential that we understand that transforming our leadership occurs from the inside out. It starts with who we are and who we are becoming. It then flows into the work we do and the impact we have on the lives of others. The exercise of skills must be aligned with the values we hold and our overriding purpose as a leader.
Diversifying our approach to what we want to learn, where we want to learn it and how we want to learn it is a simple way to broaden our approach to our leadership program. When developing our leadership program through attending events, having conversations with people around us and researching, we should also be building a network of people who are likely play a role in the story of our journey as a leader. While many of these connections will be temporary, the ones that will endure will form the nucleus of those key individuals who will exercise a particular formative capacity in our leadership development. These will include our peers who are embarking on the journey with us, the advisors who we turn to when we hit roadblocks, and the role models who inspire us to keep going when we lose our way.
We can contemplate our Leadership Development Program by considering the following questions: