The Executive Checklist: Internal Ways to Grow and Become a Better Leader
January’s almost over, but we’re just warming up into the new year.
People often think leaders and professionals at the executive level no longer strive for growth as they are already in a position that requires a lot of skills, experience, and connections. However, professionals at the upper management level know that capability does not come with the role in an instant. When it comes to leadership, growth is not just an option but a non-negotiable. Change, development, and improvement will always come along with the job for one to be an effective leader capable of positioning themselves and their team for success.
That said, it’s never too late to start a professional new year’s resolution to better yourself. Change doesn’t have to start on January 1st; it can begin anytime, in your own time, so why not start now and start from within?
• Learn to unlearn
When we talk about one's development and improvement, learning immediately comes to mind, but have you thought about letting go of old habits and ways of thinking as you allow yourself to learn new things?
While it's not necessary for a business leader to know how everything works, having an understanding of each individual area of the company and knowing the organization inside and out is a good thing to some extent as it would allow a professional to truly see what would work, what wouldn't, and what's best for certain situations. However, what executive-level professionals know today may not be the case in the years or even months to come, so one must stay receptive to new ideas and information. This is why learning remains crucial even for those at the top of the corporate ladder. However, learning is not linear and there's a flip side to it that many professionals tend to forget, a habit highly crucial in a post-pandemic world wherein it's necessary to shed old and outdated beliefs to adapt to all things new: unlearning — the very key to innovation and to reducing repetitive errors.
The art of unlearning may be uncomfortable to many. After all, it's hard to let go of something we so dearly believe in, especially when it has done something good for us. However, with the rapid and continuous disruptions and transformations in the business world mainly, we circle back to the bitter fact that what one knows today may not be the case in the future, which makes it crucial for business leaders to transform into an individual who can adapt to changing conditions in the business just as quickly as trends shift to thrive in these changing times.
• Revisit, review, and revise your strategy
Strategizing is a never-ending journey for executives and business leaders.
With how things often change lately — current trends, consumer behaviors, even in the way things are done or the people are hired — it's always a good idea to revisit your strategic plan for the year not only to measure progress against set objectives but also to ensure it remains sound and valid.
By revisiting business strategy every now and then, executives can regularly recalibrate to assess any failures encountered, understand why they occurred, learn to avoid them, be able to predict how conditions may change and play out, and make changes to position the company at an advantage against competitors. However, that is only the leadership part that colleagues and subordinates can appreciate. You see, by doing so, you're opening yourself up to difficult conversations and giving yourself room to grow professionally as it improves your ability to adapt to both internal and external changes, own and learn from mistakes, think critically, and see things from different points of view.
• Don’t forget to check in with yourself
Have you checked in with yourself?
It's no longer news that senior executives are under constant pressure, so it's easy for professionals to lose sight of your mental health. But if you intend to improve yourself, you must include your mental health among your priorities before you get to the point of burnout.
Previously defined as a "state of vital exhaustion," the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently classified burnout as a "syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed" characterized by:
• A sense of exhaustion or depletion
• Mental distance from or negativity or cynicism about work
• Decreased effectiveness at work
And as we stated in a previous article, this 'occupational phenomenon' can reduce one's productivity and keep someone demotivated until they're worn out and drained, affecting:
• Job performance
• Communication skills
• Job satisfaction
That said, it may be best for senior executives to spare some time each day to take care of themselves. Make time for your needs, the things you value most, and the things you've been longing to try. Most importantly, allow yourself to figure out who you are beyond your job title and do something that feeds your energy.
• Surround yourself with the right professionals
Acquiring new knowledge is not enough for one to grow. In order to excel and accelerate your personal growth and professional development, you must surround yourself with fellow professionals who can positively impact the way you think and see the world as well as support and aid you in making impossibles possible. Take note, however, that these individuals don't just mean your family, your friends, and the fellow executives within your network. To surround yourself with the right people also means to hire the right professionals, the right people you can collaborate with and have a playful banter with, and the right colleagues and subordinates in a reliable team dedicated to helping you catapult the company to success. Working with a clique you click with can provide you with new learnings and aid you in reaching your full potential —be it professionally, personally, or even interpersonally or just in some specific aspects of life.
Being a good leader takes time. So choose growth. Make that intentional choice. Start from within. After all, it is all a matter of mindset.
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