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How to Develop Yourself as an Executive Leader

Executive Leadership

You’ve got to where you are now through hard work, hard knocks and perseverance, and now you’ve reached your goal of being in an executive leadership position. But it’s not all bread and roses, right? Your responsibilities are huge. Your decisions and actions have significant impacts on your people and the organisation as a whole. You still struggle with personnel and communication issues, strategic direction, and a myriad of other complexities. It can be tough, but self-development is the key to meeting these challenges. Here’s how to develop yourself as an executive leader. 

Take ownership of your self-development

It’s vital to keep learning and developing yourself, to keep building the skills that will help you to keep ahead of the curve and adapt to change and disruption.

Developing yourself helps the business and the people in it to thrive. Ignoring your own ongoing self-development will eventually lead to the organisation suffering as a result. It’s up to you to ensure you’re always learning.

So how can you develop yourself in a way that has the most impact?

Start with self-awareness

What are your top skills and strengths, and what are your weaknesses? Is there an intent-impact gap? You may think you’re doing all the right things, but do others see things differently?

You can find out through having open and honest conversations, or by going through a 360-degree feedback process.

Now you’re able to identify areas that need improving, and areas you may want to delegate.

Build resilience

With leadership, there comes failure. Accept you will have disappointments. It’s how you bounce back from those disappointments that matters. Expect things to go well, but not perfectly.

See failures as temporary, specific and external, not as permanent, pervasive and personal. This way, you’ll be able to deal with anything that comes along, because you have confidence in yourself and your skills to figure it out. It’s a belief system that helps you move forward and solve real problems in a constructive way, rather than allowing problems to weigh you down and drain your energy.

Your ability to be resilient is also enhanced by your overall physical and mental wellbeing, so don’t neglect your lifestyle outside of work. Make sure you get enough exercise, sleep and relaxation time so that you’re operating at your optimum.

Never stop learning

When we stop learning, we stagnate. The business world is changing at a faster pace than ever before through new technology, new paradigms and constant disruption, so it pays to keep up.

Apart from undertaking courses, make sure to learn from your experience, from other people, and at multiple levels.

Learning from experience means analysing what went wrong, or what mistakes were made in the past, so you can put in place strategies that will ensure success in future.

Gaining knowledge and insights from others means letting go of your ego, and being willing to change your mind when presented with better ideas.

Learning at multiple levels means getting perspective from areas beyond your current role, so you get a better understanding of the whole picture and how everything is connected.

Identify your top one or two development areas and create a learning plan that suits you.

Build strong relationships

Leadership is all about relationships, and how well you can connect with the people you work with. It’s important to build trust and respect with your seniors, peers and junior colleagues.

If you don’t already have one, seek out a mentor or an executive coach that will support you and help you develop.

Develop yourself as an executive leader

Self-development as a leader is no longer a “nice-to-have” in the corporate world – it’s an essential element to ensuring your own and the organisation’s success.  To develop yourself as an executive leader, take responsibility and make sure you’re always getting better at what you do.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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