January 2


How Can I Take Charge of My Own Leadership Development

By Sara Canaday

January 2, 2017

career success, leadership, leadership behaviors, leadership development, leadership skills, management, professional development

Many people greet the new year with a renewed commitment to professional growth. But what about existing leaders? They often feel overwhelmed and put others first.

Unfortunately, demanding and stressful conditions could be holding them back from even greater success.

The truth is, we all need to devote time to  our own leadership development—no matter what level we’ve reached within the organization. Waiting for the right time or for someone else to design a plan for our professional growth means ignoring our untapped career potential. If we want to become a better leader, we need to take charge!

So how can you do that?

Start by being intentional about how you’d ideally like others to describe you as a leader. Write it down! Make a list of the words and phrases you’d like people to use when talking about you and your leadership style.

As part of this goal-setting process, think next-level. How could you expand your role and accelerate your career? What perceptions would more accurately demonstrate that you are prepared to meet the challenges of 21st Century leadership? For instance, you might want to be seen as influential rather than simply informed. Not just flexible but resilient. Innovative instead of generally creative. Someone who sees the bigger scope, considering global issues and long-term impact.

With your “goal perceptions” in mind, proactively seek out feedback to assess how your colleagues and followers actually experience you.

Utilize one of the many tools for a turn-key 360 assessment: Benchmark for Leaders by the Center for Creative Leadership, The Leadership Circle, The Hogan 360 or, of course, my proprietary Brand 360 survey.

Next, use this feedback to pinpoint any gaps between your intended and actual impact. Are there areas where you might be falling short? Where could you make improvements to become a more powerful and productive leader?

Finally, design a development plan that targets those specific gaps. Instead of embarking on a broad program for professional growth, you can pinpoint the areas that will make the biggest difference in your career. You might include a mix of targeted reading, workshops, courses, and transformational experiences. Consider a rotational assignment, apply for your organization’s high-potential program, or volunteer to take on a big project at your favorite non-profit.

Other resources:

Even if you’re already in a leadership position, don’t wait for someone else to guide your career progress. Take charge of your own development! By using an intentional and focused approach, you can become an even better leader and maximize your potential for success.


Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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