How to take control of your own development

By on October 7, 2014

Leaders should take a hands-on approach to advancing their careers, says Miranda Kennett.

Even if you’re lucky enough to work for an organisation that dedicates resources to developing its staff, the provision will reflect organisational imperatives rather than your own agenda and budget may be patchy. Time to start taking control of your own development.

Start by reviewing the past year and ask yourself honestly how well you handled the opportunities and challenges that came up. With hindsight what could you have done better or differently? And what resources would you need to achieve this improvement?

Then consider where you want to get to in your working future and what additional skills, knowledge and experience you would need to get there. These two activities will help you set your own learning agenda.

Check with those responsible for learning and development what budget exists and whether there are any development activities that correspond to your needs.

If not, don’t despair: there are plenty of ways to extend your leadership skills that are virtually free, save for a little effort on your part.

For example:

  • If you need a wider perspective, you could shadow a colleague, be seconded to another department or join a project team or an industry body.
  • If your profile needs raising, you could write an article for a trade journal or a national newspaper or start a blog.
  • Meetings unproductive? Consider changing their style, content and timing, and learn from watching how other people chair and manage their group sessions.
  • You could find a mentor or become one yourself.
  • If your office is a mess and your time-keeping leaves something to be desired, try de-cluttering and disciplining yourself to meet deadlines and review progress after a month. Notice the improvement this has on relationships and effectiveness.
  • Update your CV every six months and if there’s nothing new to add, you’ll know that focusing on your own development is a priority for you. No one else will have a better idea of what’s required.

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