Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today, let’s take a moment for some evaluation. That’s right: you need to evaluate some things about yourself before moving forward in your leadership journey.

First, what is your plan for personal leadership development? What are you doing now that has helped you become a better leader?

Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.

Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.

You cannot treat your own personal leadership development as a 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, and then expect the people you want to influence to view it as a 9. You set the example for personal leadership development.

If you are taking your development as a leader seriously, then you are starting on the right foot. The reality is that any forward movement is forward movement. You may not be doing anything at this point to develop your leadership, aside from reading this collection of thoughts, but you have started somewhere.

Second, take some time to define what leadership means to you. Very few things will limit the effectiveness of the rest of this blog as much as failing to define leadership. Over time I have realized how important clarity really becomes.

One way to work at defining leadership is with a simple web search for leadership quotes. You do not have to reinvent the wheel as you seek to define leadership, but at the same time it should be personal. Take a few quotes you find inspiring, or you read and something in you shouts “Yes! That’s it!” and use those. See how a dictionary defines leadership. Look at how Jesus defines leadership. Use sources outside of your own capacities, but let it be something with which you wrestle.

I am very wired toward service as a leadership trait. In fact, I tend to emphasize behind the scenes serving more than actually moving a group of people in a certain direction. Without a definition of leadership, my default setting is simply to teach teenagers how to serve. While serving is not a bad thing, I have had to wrestle with whether or not serving equals leadership. I decided the two go hand in hand, but there is a distinction to be made; a distinction of which I have to remind myself regularly.

So, what is your definition of leadership? Find a place to write your definition somewhere. Wrestle with it as you try to write it out. Ask yourself what are the weak areas of the definition? What are the strengths?


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