This is the final article in our series on creating your leadership identity, based upon principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to read the full series, available on our Emerging Women Leaders blog.
It was Aristotle who said that we are what we repeatedly do. Our seemingly small actions, done day in and day out, eventually create who we are.
Our small actions, done day in and day out are also known as habits.
Who you are as a person is reflected in who you are as a leader, so it makes sense then that your habits have a big stake in your leadership path and ultimate success. With the right habits you stay on course. With the wrong ones, it’s easy to end up off the path and in the weeds!
A focus on habits seemed to me a perfect way to close this series and help set you up for success moving forward. Each article in our Leadership Identity series laid out actions you can take to build a certain aspect of your leadership identity. To help you take the next steps in creating lasting habits, I’ll share this simple plan you can practice and put into place.
Step 1: Get Your Bearings
First, take some time to review the series and each article. They’re packaged and ready for you here.
Next, you’ll want to assess yourself on each of the 7 leadership identity categories. This is where you are today, keeping within the context of your career. Create a ranked list, with 1 being where you’re the strongest. This will help you prioritize your direction. For example, your ranked list might look like this:
- Act Like a Leader
- Think Like a Leader
- Personal Brand
- Visual Presence of Leader
- How You Play the Game of Business
- Respond Like a Leader
- Verbal Presence of a Leader
Step 2: Set Your Direction
With your ranked list in hand, look at your strongest and weakest categories. In our example, our strongest is Act Like a Leader and our weakest is Verbal Presence of a Leader. These two areas are where you’ll begin your action plan. I’ll let you in on the method to my madness in working this way. I’m a big fan of working from strengths first, but I like to make sure I’m not ignoring weaker areas. So beginning your action plan from a place of strength will help you to build on the successful leadership habits you already have, and give you some quick successes. Those quick successes will create the boost you need to establish new habits in the weaker areas.
For your two selected categories, go back to the corresponding article and then choose one tip from each that you’d like to work on. Try to pick one that you feel will give you the biggest return, based on your projects, your development plan, and your goals. Remember that you can modify it to fit your situation so you get the most out of it.
In our example, it might look like this:
- Act Like a Leader: Ask great questions.
- Verbal Presence of a Leader: Practice the TAPS formula in my next meeting.
Step 3: Practice, Track, Repeat
Once you’ve decided on the tips to implement, it’s time to put them into practice. Commit to yourself that you’ll work on this daily for the next 30 days. It takes that long to cement a new habit, to make it subconscious and part of your everyday behavior. Odds are you’ll find that the new habit creates other positive changes!
Some tips to help you along the way:
- Share what you’re working on with your manager or a mentor. Better yet, put it into your leadership development plan.
- If working on two actions is overwhelming, begin with one and build from there. Do what you need to do to set yourself up for the best possible success!
- Track your progress in a way that works for you. It could be as simple as marking it in a calendar, or keeping a more detailed journal. The idea is to be consistent and make it something you’ll do each day.
At the end of the 30 days, check in with yourself. How often did you practice? How well is the new habit established? Based on that check in, decide if you need another 30 days with these same actions, or if you’re ready to take on some new ones.
If you’re ready to move on, here are some suggestions:
- Continue with the same categories, and new actions
- Move on to the next categories in your list – working your way inward (to #2 and #6)
If you’re not ready to move on, that’s completely OK. Stay with it and give yourself another chance to make the change stick.
One of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor was to be more compassionate with myself, to give myself a break. (Especially for all of you perfectionists out there, I understand!) True change takes time, practice, and some self-compassion. Remember these are lasting habits that will make you the leader you want to be.
Visit https://amyfranko.com for more information about custom blended training solutions and professional development services offered by Impact Instruction Group. Amy Franko is an Apex Award of Excellence winner for training design.
© 2012 Impact Instruction Group
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