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6 Things You Can Do This Week to Develop Leadership Potential

November 3, 2017

6 things to develop leadership potential“Leadership potential” is likely to mean something different depending on your industry, your organization, or even within your team. But at its core, leadership potential is the demonstration of a range of abilities and traits related to success as a leader. Individuals with strong leadership potential use logic and objective analysis to make decisions and solve problems, demonstrate insight into their own and others' behaviors, maintain effectiveness and optimism in the face of obstacles and stress, crave responsibility and enjoy being in charge, assume accountability for achieving results, and effectively manage performance and motivate others toward goal attainment.

Does that sound like you? If not, don’t fret. While some leadership traits are more innate than others, everyone has the ability to develop leadership potential to some extent. Below are six action-oriented approaches to becoming a better leader. Which ones will you engage in this week? 
  • Learn by observation. Observe a leader in your organization who is considered successful. Reflect on their behaviors and actions during times of change or decision-making as well as how they communicate with other people at all levels in the organization. Take notes and implement the techniques that work for you. Good leaders find the time for feedback, so don’t be shy in asking them about their techniques and approaches. Also, be careful not to simply copy another’s behavior. We are all human. Even the best leaders may not make the perfect decision in every situation. Make sure to observe and identify what would work best for you as a leader.

Related: Uncover What Great Leaders Do Differently Than Other Leaders

  • Identify your gaps. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Hone in on a few key areas for improvement either from a formal performance review, a leadership assessment, or an informal discussion with your supervisor. Once you’ve identified the areas, break them down into behaviors and action-oriented goals. Establish a timeline and an objective way to measure your success as you work on these skills. Hold yourself accountable for this by telling your goal to a trusted peer and empower them to give you feedback. Read more about why real-time feedback is the future of development.

  • Leverage your strengths. Only working on developmental gaps is no fun. We need to make sure that we also leverage those areas where we are strong. Think about areas that you enjoy a time when a supervisor has given you positive feedback in the past. Make sure that when you encounter tough or new situations you leverage these strengths. Work on a timeline and an objective strategy to make these strengths even bigger assets for the future.

  • Practice in a low-stakes situation. Are you ready to put your preparation into practice? Volunteer to be the leader on a small or short-term project. Practice the skills that you have been learning and observing. Reflect on which behaviors are the easiest to engage in and the behaviors that do not come as naturally. Ask for feedback from your peer group to ensure that you have an accurate interpretation of where to focus your development. Lead these small projects as often as possible until you feel comfortable asking for more responsibility or complexity.

  • Find a mentor. Partner with an experienced and trusted leader, either within your organization or externally. If you do not have a mentorship opportunity readily available, research online and join a mentorship pairing program. Learn from your mentor’s life experiences and advice and use them as a source of information when you have questions or concerns about development. In return, they will provide honest feedback and insight into leadership challenges.

  • Find a leadership style that fits your strengths. There is no “one size fits all” approach to good leadership, and what works for one leader may not work for you. Research the different kinds of leadership styles out there to find one that most closely matches your own innate style, such as transformational leadership, authentic leadership, democratic leadership, and so on. Learn about their differences and try to pull in useful pieces from each approach as you create your own unique leadership style.

Becoming a strong leader doesn’t happen overnight, but you can improve faster than you may think. You don’t need to wait for a company-wide 360 assessment or an upper management job opportunity to find the development you need. Practice these skills and transform your potential into real results.

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Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. Jaclyn Menendez, Ph.D. is a Project Consultant at PSI based out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Her areas of expertise include testing, assessments, and project management. Jaclyn has contributed to the development, validation, and implementation of assessments with various clients. She has managed, analyzed, and presented data analyses for content and criterion validation studies.