Saturday, May 27, 2017

Who's In Charge of Your Professional Development?

In our most recent episode of #leadershipwithlatoya, we tackle the topic of taking charge of your professional development. This is an all too important concept for leaders and others alike. If we wait to be invited to the next conference, for the next organizational offering, or for someone to mandate us to attend the company professional development, we sacrifice our own personal professional development and growth, limiting it to what is being offered to us instead of working to address gaps in our own skills. This is a dangerous, yet all too common tendency for leaders. It is so easy too get so immersed in the work we are responsible for that while we are pushing others, we forget to grow ourselves. If we aren't careful, we wake up one day, and ask ourselves a question that we can't seem to answer: What have I learned to help me be a better leader and a better learner?

I am constantly asking myself that very question. It is the core reason why I blog and podcast. I am a learner first, and a leader second. Without taking care of my own professional development and growth, the folks who I am responsible for working with as the leader, are subjected to my own limited knowledge, skills, and abilities. In order to build capacity in others, you must first build it in yourself. I've spent the last year learning a new job and I still have a great deal to learn. I am not perfect, and there have been many lessons learned this year. However, I am committed to learning and working to grow myself in those areas needed to be the best leader I can be for those I work with and serve. I am dedicated to making sure my contribution is adding value to our organization in a way that is clear, quantifiable, and positive.

My question for readers and podcast listeners regarding this topic are simple:

What are you doing to grow yourself professionally?

What excuses are standing in the way of you building your own capacity for leading?

How can you structure your time in a way to allow for you to develop yourself to maximize your potential?

How will you hold yourself accountable for you own professional development?

You are in charge of your professional development and growth. Don't wait for the invite to the conference, the mandatory meeting, etc. If there's something you want and need to learn, go do it!

Until next time-be you, be true, and be a hope builder!

#leadershipwithlatoya-Podcast Now Available on iTunes!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Who's In Charge: The Complexity of Leadership

Leadership is difficult.  The challenges of leadership are often due to an underestimation of its’ complexity. Too often, leadership is thought of as the ‘face of the organization’, but leadership is significantly more complex than a simple representation that embodies organizational mission, vision, and values. Cultivating the strengths of others, mitigating for weaknesses, while building capacity in subordinates and accomplishing a set of aspirational goals isn’t exactly easy. In fact, I contend that leadership is one of the most difficult exercises in humanity. Furthermore, it’s my belief that those who excel at leadership, meaning they lead in a way that allows the organization to experience sustained success, are quick to acknowledge the difficulty of such.  Leadership isn't about being in charge; its about managing the time, talent, and resources in your charge.  It's messy, complex, and down right difficult. If I had to define it, I'd do it this way:
Leadership is the ability to design a structured framework that leverages the strengths of multiple individuals, allowing for an integration and coordination of key actions and strategies aligned to the organization’s mission, and put into practice a mutually agreed upon vision. This complex task requires key skills and abilities that must be developed through life long learning, reflective practices, and professional experiences. 
Leadership is challenging for a number of reasons, but summarily much of the following make it a complex task. Let’s take a look at the list below:

Leadership Challenges:

·    Challenge 1: Developing a through knowledge of each individual’s strengths and growth opportunities in your organization to support a plan to develop and elevate capacity.
·    Challenge 2: Designing a structure that supports the leveraging of strengths for organizational effectiveness, while mitigating for weaknesses.
·    Challenge 3: Maintaining a clear focus on organizational goals and objectives; avoiding unproductive actions often disguised as work that needs to be done.
·    Challenge 4: Coordinating and integrating strategic actions in a timely and collaborative fashion to maximize positive impact.
·    Challenge 5: Managing and developing talent and resources to support success and exploit the strengths of individual members whose impact positively contributes to the greater good of the organization. 

Acknowledging the difficulty of leadership is key to understanding how to improve your personal leadership capacity. A desire to lead should not be confused with an understanding of leadership. Far too often, a desire to lead is rooted in what one perceives leadership to be, without a through consideration of the complexity of such a task. Those who aspire to lead should take the time to study effective leaders, but before doing so should be careful in the ways in which they define effectiveness. Let’s explore further.

Leadership Effectiveness:
·      Supported by structure & strategy (structure & strategy are used to move forward)
·      Supported by results (evidence via qualitative and quantitative data)
·      Supported by impact (link between leadership actions & improved capacity of others)
·      Supported by value (adds value to the organization as a whole)

 Fig. 1 Leadership Effectiveness

To add value to the organization, a leader must first possess a clear understanding how the three key elements that contribute to such: strategy, results, and impact. Without an appropriate understanding of the three contributors to value, determining how and if value is added can be quite difficult. To improve your effectiveness as leaders, you can begin by thinking carefully about the challenges of leadership, what makes it difficult, and what makes leaders effective.

What makes your leadership challenging? How can you define those challenges and then plan for addressing them? Leave your thoughts in the comment section. I'd love to know what you think.  Until next time-be you, be true, and be a hope builder!

#leadershipwithlatoya-Listen on iTunes