For many leaders, the month of January is a time to reflect on past accomplishments and establish new goals for the upcoming year. Please consider adding one or two goals from the following list to optimize your professional development in 2016.
1. Improve strategic thinking.
Strategy is the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term. It addresses "where" and "why." To earn a seat at the executive table, move beyond tactical thinking, which deals with the process-oriented details of "what" and "how." Learn to offer a longer range, broader perspective on your business that addresses overall corporate aims such as financial performance and customer satisfaction.
2. Build financial acumen.
Every organization has a series of key performance indicators or KPIs. These are performance measurement tools that help you measure and predict the overall health and efficiency of your company or department's operations. It's a career-boosting move to understand, interpret, and use relevant accurate numbers to sell your ideas and improve your business.
3. Track your accomplishments.
Whether you're up for a promotion, asking for a raise, or getting a performance review, you'll be called upon to talk about your achievements. Don't rely on memory. Document your accomplishments throughout the year
as they happen
. Be specific and quantitative. For example, "Rebuilt nine at-risk customer accounts to generate incremental revenue of $2.5 million in less than 6 months."
4. Learn a new skill.
Is there a gap in your current skill set? Does your job require a competency, which you do not yet possess? To be proactive and stay competitive, take the initiative--enroll in a class, learn a new language, or become certified. Add that new skill to your repertoire in 2016.
5. Develop your people.
The best leaders invest time, energy, and resources with their high potential employees. This means becoming a coach or mentor to those following in your footsteps. By enabling the full potential in others, you'll not only raise employee satisfaction scores and build bench strength for key positions, you'll demonstrate the importance of effective talent management. Plus, you'll create your own succession plan--getting a promotion is more likely if your role is ready to be filled.
6. Seek feedback
. To increase your self-awareness and remedy blind spots, request constructive input from your peers, managers, and employees. How effective are you as a co-worker, subordinate, and supervisor? If possible, conduct a 360 assessment. The best leaders ask for feedback not only about what they're doing well, but about what they're
doing well. Use this feedback to celebrate your strengths and refine your areas of opportunity.
7. Optimize time management.
Emails, excessive meetings, interruptions, micromanagement, over-commitment, etc. . . Benjamin Franklin reminds us, "Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." Learn new ways to manage the time-wasters, and shift your commitment to more life-enhancing, productive, and value-added activities.
8. Enhance your people skills
. How well do you communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups? Do you show interest in
? Are you good at asking relevant questions and listening effectively? Can others sense you appreciate and value them? Leaders like Warren Buffet have not only studied, but credit Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" with changing their lives and teaching them the fine art of people skills.
9. Hone executive presence.
As basic as it may sound, leaders at all levels need to exude a professional image and confident demeanor through appropriate attire, grooming, words, and actions. Recent research shows that you're more likely to be considered for a top leadership role when you convey a professional appearance, demonstrate effective and confident communication skills, and show respect for others.
10. Polish presentation skills.
The global management consultants at McKinsey and Company in the book
The McKinsey Mind
assert, "Presentation is the killer skill we take into the real world. It gives us an almost unfair advantage." Presentation proficiency is the ability to present yourself and your message clearly, concisely, and credibly yielding the desired result from your audience. Despite the anxiety that accompanies public speaking, learn to manage the fear and acquire this skill set. Your career will advance to new levels as you become a more powerful persuasive presenter.
As a reminder, here are three proven ways to help you achieve your leadership goals:
a) As you select your goals, remember to apply the S.M.A.R.T. method: Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, with a Timeline.
b) Write down your goals and review them daily to reinforce your commitment to yourself.
c) Recruit a trusted friend, colleague or coach to serve as your accountability partner; someone who will check in with you once a month to review the progress on your goals.
Good luck selecting and succeeding in your new goals, and may 2016 be a healthy, prosperous, and joyous year for you!
If you would like to learn more about executive presence, communication skills, and presentation proficiency, please read my book
Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results
(available in Hardcover, Kindle, and Audio).
Feel free to contact me directly to schedule an in-house corporate training event for your team. I would be honored to support your presentation and communication success.