By Louise Ledbrook
According to Wikipedia “Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitates employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.” And “Professional development refers to skills and knowledge attained for both personal development and career advancement.”
If you want to be the best leader, manager or professional that you can be then you need to make sure you are the best version of yourself you can be. So what exactly does that mean?
That means you need to constantly be looking at ways to improve and grow on your current personal skill set and the tools and attributes you poses to enable a more successful career and life.
Have you ever been in a meeting or at a networking function and met someone that just had a way about them. They commanded attention with their presence and vibrancy. You remember them, don’t you? Well you too can be that person, you just need to know how to work on being that person.
Or what about those people that just seem to be able to get a thousand things done in a day yet still walk out the door at 5.30pm to be home with their family for dinner. Again this can be you, you just need to learn how to manage yourself and those around you more effectively.
Whatever it is you want to be, or have more of, money, power, time, it is all possible. It is time to look to yourself for the answers and stop looking around you. Here are some of the key areas to work on to get ahead.
1. Clear Personal Vision and Goals
It is common in many organization’s for employees to set goals and objectives for the year and these are usually somehow aligned to your bosses goals and those of the organization as a whole. But what about your own personal vision? What do you want from life? What are your goals both short and long term?
Until you can define and know where you are going as a person in life and career how can you make sure that the goals you set at work and the choices you make in life, be it in relation to who you network with or what course you take, are taking you in the right direction not just the direction of the organization you work for.
Take a few minutes to define your own personal vision, who and what do you want to be and have?
2. Personal Brand
So who are you anyway? How do people see or perceive you? What sort of impression do you convey to the outside world? Do you have a different persona in your social life to your work life?
Considering what personal brand you convey to the world is actually quite important. Have you ever considered that how you present and conduct yourself has a direct link between you and your career success.
For example if you come to work in jeans and a t-shirt each day, yet are hoping to be promoted to General Manager one day, consider if jeans and a t-shirt is appropriate for a GM, do you think people will look at you and think ‘he is GM material’? Obviously that example will not always apply, but work on your brand, what message do you want to give to the world and find ways to convey that with your presentation and behavior.
3. Success Mindset
You know the old saying “mind over matter” well it applies to your ability to be successful also.
Amazingly if you believe in yourself that you are not worthy of a pay rise or a promotion or success in general, well then you will find that those things rarely come your way, or they take a lot of really hard work.
Believe in yourself and take the time to train your mind with the use of positive affirmations. There are many different ways you can work on your mindset but the first step is wanting to.
Try and have a positive outlook and find the lesson, be that positive or negative, in every experience. Don’t ask yourself ”why does that happen?” Ask yourself “what can I do better next time?”
Find time for you and your thoughts, it’s important to have think time for creativity and reflection.
4. Time Management and Productivity
Time is one of those things that everyone wants more of, yet it is a finite resource forever disappearing faster and faster as the years go on.
So how do we get more time? By making the time we use more efficient and effective.
What are you spending your time on? Do you Really need to be doing that? With everything you do consider how great an impact it will have on your end goal, and if you are tossing up between two tasks, decide which will have the greatest impact, even if it is the harder of the two.
Rarely do we take the time to look at how we use our time. Look at what you do with each minute of your day for a few days and see if there are situations where you could have used that time better. How many things do you do on your To Do List just because they were on there because 1 week ago it seemed like a good idea but in the scheme of things, you didn’t really need to do it.
Are you making the most of the skills of your team members? Are you able to relinquish control, to the betterment of you and your team?
Consider that a few hours of mentoring on a task could free up weeks of your time in the long run, and help someone else grow their skill set also.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good communication in all aspects of life. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. This brilliant quote by George Bernard Shaw sums up so many of the communication problems in the work place and the home.
Have you ever stopped to consider your communication style? How well do you get the message across? How well do you listen? Communication is a two way street. It is about how you give and receive information.
If you find some people are continually misunderstanding or not getting the whole message from you then you need to consider yours and their communication styles. How compatible are they and what do you need to change so it works better.
Do you speak to others the way you would like to be spoken to? Are the messages you give contradicted by your body language and tone? There are many aspect of communication that need to be considered. Take a look at the way you communicate.
Working well with others is what makes for a happy life. The absence of conflict, tension and frustration results in a smoother running team and family life.
There are many things to consider in relation to your interactions with others. We are all very different people with varied personalities and they will not always mesh nicely together.
Working with people that you don’t get along with is inevitable, so you need to work out how you can best work with them. Analyze the differences in your styles and try and find ways to adapt or avoid if need be.
Get to know people you work with, the more you know about a person and what motivates them the more you will be able to find better ways to interact with them and generate a more constructive relationship.
You do not have to have the title of a leader to be a leader. A manager is not inherently a leader. Some say you either have it or you don’t but there are definitely skills you can learn from great leaders.
Look at the behaviors of great leaders before you, from those you admire in your life. What is it about them that you admire? That makes them a great leader? That makes you want to follow?
How can you apply those techniques in your everyday life? And remember you don’t have to be the boss to lead your team to greatness, a leader can be in any role in an organization, it’s not necessarily about control, it’s about being able to interact and communicate with people so they want to follow your ideas.
8. How you handle situations
How you behave in various situations will tell a lot about the person you are, so remember that others will remember you for the way you conducted yourself in a situation.
In any situation consider, how would you like this to end up? Whatever the outcome is you desire you need to find the best way to reach that goal while maintaining your good reputation.
Now many people make a reputation on being aggressive and making their point heard, but that is not necessary, there are much better ways to reach a positive outcome. And you will be remembered in a positive way.
Always remember your ethics and values and don’t ever compromise them. Negotiate with the end goal in mind of a win win situation. Consider how you would like to be treated in every situation and treat the other person that way.
Analyze a situation from your past and really consider what you could have done differently to have improved it. It is no good working out what the other person could have done because you have no control over that, but you have control over your own behavior and therefore will have more control over the situation as a whole in the future.
9. Work-life balance
Do you have it? Do you want it? Well sadly it is one of those things that can take the most effort to put in place.
Stress and chronic fatigue are just a couple of the modern day illnesses that plague our world. Somewhere along the line the work smarter not harder slogan seems to have been lost and all we do is work hard.
Believe it or not but working too hard is actually detrimental to our ability to work well. It can result in poor concentration, leading to errors and even result in physical illness which means you can’t work at all.
You need to make finding ways to maintain work life balance a priority. If you do manage to make more time for yourself by managing your time better, don’t fill that extra time with more work; utilize some of it for yourself and your friends and family.
Make work life balance a priority in your team and make it a standing agenda item on your team meeting to look at ways to work smarter to create more time and ways to ensure each team member has balance. Some things you could encourage is an ‘eat right’ program and have a nutritionist speak to your team. Have the whole team join a walk-a-thon and raise money for a chosen charity while getting some exercise.
What can you change to find that balance you need?
10. Sharing knowledge
Mentoring and teaching others is a great way to enable yours and others personal growth.
Sharing what you know not only helps someone else it makes you feel good. So take the opportunity to share what you know with other people. Whenever you have the opportunity to show someone a better way, don’t say ‘too hard, I don’t have time’, make the time to show them. You will be amazed at how those few minutes actually gave you the positive boost you needed and will result in you working better too.
Obviously there are many other aspects of yourself that you can work on but the above list is a few of the key areas that will enable a more successful career and happier life.
How can you expect the best out of your team if you aren’t continually trying to be the best yourself. And it’s not about being the hardest worker, or the person willing to do the most overtime, or help the most people do their work. It’s about learning better ways to do things. As you discover a better way you can then teach those around you so they too can grow and improve with you.
Don’t get left behind, take the time to work on yourself, the investment will be repaid tenfold as you move forward and up.