The start of the new year is the perfect time to pause and reflect on what you want most in life. Whether you’re currently in a leadership role or are aspiring to be, leadership development is fundamental to your success.
Anyone can say that they want to “be a better leader” or “improve their leadership skills.” But what exactly does this mean? Leadership is characterized by a broad range of soft skills, and with endless leadership development tactics, making a plan of action can be challenging. This is where setting leadership development goals can help.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: WHAT IT IS AND ITS PURPOSE
Many people think that leaders are naturally born. While this is true in some cases, leadership skills and leadership styles can be both learned and improved. Regardless of where your current abilities fall, leadership skills are just like a muscle – the more you exercise them, the stronger they get. Leadership skills include a range of interpersonal skills such as:
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Strategic decision making
- Conflict resolution
Leadership development is simply defined as the ways you improve these skills and there are many different ways you can develop your leadership skills. The tactics that work best for you will vary depending on your personality and learning style.
They can include anything from guided activities, self-reflection, and coaching to hands-on projects, internships, and membership to a leadership honor society. The purpose of these tactics is to make you into a better leader than the one you were yesterday.
top 4 leadership development goals to set this year
Leadership development goals give you a “big picture” to work toward that’s inspiring and challenging, yet also obtainable. These goals should focus on strengthening your weaknesses and refining your leadership style.
1. IMPROVE YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Your emotional intelligence (EI) is your ability and capacity to be aware of, manage, and express your emotions as well as perceive the emotions of others. It impacts your relationships, behaviors, physical and mental health, and performance at school and work. Because of this, it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. There are five components to EI:
- Social skills
This soft skill is one of the most challenging to develop, and as a leader, you should know what your EI is and have a plan to improve it.
2. GROW AND STRENGTHEN YOUR NETWORK
The size and strength of your network are beneficial to both your personal and professional growth. Your network may consist of your reports, peers, mentors, teachers, and even people you meet in everyday life.
As a student, strengthening these relationships now can open the door to many opportunities in the future – whether it be for an internship or job recommendation, learning a different skill, creating a professional development plan, getting help to overcome a challenge… the list goes on.
3. GET BETTER AT TIME MANAGEMENT
Efficiency and time management go hand-in-hand, and both of these can help you increase fulfillment and reduce stress. Managing your time is critical to staying organized and productive – both of which can help you put the best foot forward in your professional and personal endeavors.
Your ability to manage your own time also trickles down into how you lead. A leader that can manage their time well is able to help others manage theirs and can effectively create and communicate deadlines and expectations. Good time management sets you and your team up for success long term.
4. BECOME AN ACTIVE LISTENER
Communication is a critical leadership skill – and one that most people struggle with. Listening is arguably the most important part of communication, and the way you listen is key.
Passive listening means to listen without reacting or responding. Active listening, on the other hand, means showing you’re fully paying attention to and invested in what someone is saying. This skill shows that you’re not only able, but willing to hear what others around you have to say. This fosters trust, encourages communication, and improves your relationships.
Along with the sense of motivation, inspiration, and purpose that pursuing a leadership development goal gives you, the process is a valuable opportunity to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. And with the right goal-setting tactics in place, you’ll be able to prioritize, stay focused, and efficiently accomplish these goals.
THE NSLS BUILDS BETTER LEADERS
With any goal you set, it’s important to have strong strategies in place to ensure you’re able to take action and gain traction. As a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), you’ll have access to a wide range of opportunities and resources designed to help you develop strong leadership skills, including, but not limited to networking events, mentorships, scholarships, jobs and internships, training exercises, leadership summits, and more.
Learn more about our member benefits to see how we can help you set leadership development goals and accomplish them effectively.