I was reading a white paper on the Challenges Leaders Face globally. It was created by the Center for Creative Leadership(CCL) and encompassed over 750 leaders from 7 countries globally. These participants were all a part of the CCL Leadership Development Program. The intent of this study was not only to identify the challenges for leaders, but also to see the differences between locations. Each of the participants was asked to provide their top 3 challenges as part of the work they did to enter the program. The information was then pulled together to compile a total list of challenges and then broken down into categories. The interesting fact is that no matter where the subjects were from, over half had identified the same 6 challenges as part of their top 10 list.
The top 6 challenges that they identified were:
- Developing Managerial Effectiveness
- Inspiring Others
- Developing a Team
- Leading a Team
- Guiding Change
- Managing Internal Stakeholders and Politics
There were others on the list that included managing conflict, driving growth, managing vision, performance management and retention. None of these were really a surprise. These types of challenges happen in all organizations. The question is what is being done to improve the issues?
There is no “cookie cutter” approach that will work for everyone. Look at the list above and rate yourself in terms of how you are doing with each of those top challenges. Ask for feedback from your direct reports, your peers and management. You can get a leadership assessment done for more formalized anonymous feedback, but generally just asking the questions may be enough. What did you learn? Are there some changes that you can implement quickly that will help you improve? How did their feedback line up with your own perception of your skills?
The white paper lists out some basic ideas on how to improve in each of these categories. While those are good, they are probably not enough. Many people highlight additional training to improve themselves. That is also good, but you actually have to implement those things that you learn when you are back on the job. Most of the time you go back to old habits and nothing changes. While it is still fresh in your mind create actions that you will start doing immediately based on what you learned.
Personal Development is an iterative process which requires consistent and intentional focus. You can’t take one class and learn it all. Focus on 2-3 areas that you want to work on and design some actions to improve yourself. These changes are not easy and may require a long time to see a difference. You will need to move out of your comfort zone to see real change occur. Identify some stretch actions that will push you closer to the goal. Keep asking for feedback and ask others to support you in these changes. Seek out a mentor or a coach to give you additional perspective and accelerate your progress.
If you want to improve, you need to own your own development and continue to move towards making changes. Change takes time, so don’t get discouraged. Capture your accomplishments along the way so that you are seeing progress . The goal is to see improvement in how you handle these challenges. However, the added benefits will be how much you learn about yourself and see yourself as a confident leader. That is the foundation that will help you navigate through any challenges that you face.
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