5 Reasons You Need An Executive Leadership Assessment

As a senior leader, you have probably taken some type of assessment during the course of your career. The results provided you with insight into your strengths and weaknesses and helped you become more self-aware. However, even at the most senior levels it is still critical to take some type of leadership assessment on a regular basis because you need to continue to improve your performance for maximum benefit regardless of how long you’ve been in your position. Here are 5 reasons you should take an executive leadership assessment.

1. THE HIGHER THE POSITION, THE LESS LIKELY YOU RECEIVE FEEDBACK

It’s easy to believe that you don’t need feedback at the most senior levels of management. You’ve made it to the top so you must know all that you need to know, right? Also, it’s harder for you as a senior leader to receive open and honest feedback even if you seek it from your peers, direct reports and other colleagues. A 360 degree assessment that is completely anonymous is an excellent way for you to receive the type of candid feedback necessary regarding your leadership, behavior, capabilities and performance from your team members who wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing these concerns with you in person.

2. LINK BUSINESS STRATEGIES WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES

Leadership assessments are an excellent way to determine if you have the essential skills to move your company in the direction needed. Your organization’s business strategies are vital to improving the bottom line and it’s critically important to link those strategies with the skills required for success today and in the future. Assessments will help you identify which competencies need further improvement so you can develop a long-term strategy that’s built to change and adapt as the business climate necessitates.

3. COMPARE YOUR SKILLS AGAINST INDUSTRY STANDARDS

Perhaps you have been in your position for several years. Are you keeping up with the ever changing business climate in your industry? It’s much too easy to become complacent with your capabilities when you’ve been in the same job for an extended period of time. By conducting a leadership assessment, you will be able to identify how your skills match up with what the industry standards are and whether they are the competencies necessary to stay ahead of the competition.

4. IDENTIFY KEY GAPS AND WORK TO RESOLVE ISSUES BEFORE THEY COST THE COMPANY MONEY

Derailing leaders cost companies millions of dollars through lost productivity decreased revenue due to poor performance. By taking an assessment on a yearly basis, you will be able to identify any key competency gaps or issues that could cause significant problems for the organization. Then you will be able to get the appropriate coaching and training needed to improve your skills and avoid a complete derailment. After all, just like in medicine, prevention is the best strategy for avoiding illness.

5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE TO IMPROVE THE COMPANY’S CULTURE

A leader who participates in assessments helps to set a positive tone for the team, department and company. This willingness to assess your leadership skills shows others at all levels what is expected and supported throughout the organization. It helps to create a culture of engagement, openness and validates the importance of continuous professional development.

When was the last time you took an assessment? Make sure you stay current on your leadership skills and help improve your company’s bottom line through regular assessment of your executive leadership performance.

12 Month Sample Leadership Development Plan

A 12 month leadership development plan is essential to identifying, planning and executing a path to success. It is the key to implementing those strategies to help any leader develop the skills necessary to move up the career ladder. Last week I discussed the 3 main parts of a successful 12 month development plan and here is a sample leadership development plan to help you create your own.

DEVELOPMENT AREAS

Identify the areas you want to focus on for improvement and then select the action steps needed to make it happen by the target dates.

STRENGTHS TO LEVERAGE

Every leader has talent in many areas that they simply may not be using to their full advantage. Next, identify your strengths that you can leverage for greater success and effectiveness.

LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS

The next to creating your leadership development plan is to focus on those behaviors you need to STOP, START and CONTINUE doing.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The last part of your 12 month development plan asks you to define what success looks like to you. How will you measure whether you’ve been successful achieving your development goals?

Take the time to complete your leadership development plan now and utilize it to improve your effectiveness as a leader. The rewards of creating and implementing your strategic plan will result in building stronger relationships at work, increasing productivity, improving your performance and benefiting your career and the company as a whole. For a complete 12 month plan and toolkit, download our sample leadership development plan here.

Create A 12 Month Leadership Development Plan

Every leader and high potential should complete a 12 month leadership development plan each year to help guide them through the actions necessary to take their career to the next level. Developing your leadership skills should be a continuous process, one that never ends even when you reach the corner office.

To get started, this blog will discuss the 3 main parts of a successful 12 month development plan and the next blog will give a few examples of a 12 month development plan. By taking the time to understand what goes into a successful development plan, you will be able to create one for yourself that will actually propel you forward in your career.

There are 3 main parts of an effective leadership development plan:

1. OBJECTIVES

These are the main goals or outcomes you want to accomplish with your development plan. It is best to select 3 or 4 main objectives. They are usually the broad, umbrella goals that you are focusing on, such as:

  • Effectively transition leadership development from the external coach to the executive and his/her manager.
  • Specify the critical success factors required to meet the unit/function and position’s goals over the next 12 months.
  • Build a system that identifies multiple sources of feedback and learning required to sustain on-going development. save

2. ELEMENTS

Elements are the key components that create your development plan. They list out specific actions that are necessary to help you accomplish your goals and provide a complete picture of all that’s involved.

  • Unit/Functional vision (one that goes 3-4 years in the future).
  • Outline strategic initiatives for the role and unit, and tie them to the overall strategy.
  • Personal and business goals.
  • Develop plans for each initiative identified.
  • Leadership behaviors to stop, start and continue.
  • Identify leadership strengths to leverage for greater success.
  • Determine barriers or obstacles that need to be addressed.
  • Tie to the executive’s leadership strengths and goals.
  • Outline the key developmental opportunities that require on-going development and the plans to address each one (leadership challenges and opportunities to develop).
  • Get approval and buy-in from his/her manager for the plan.
  • Recruit advocates from team, peers and management to serve as feedback providers and coaches over the course of the year.
  • Determine measures of success.
  • Quarterly check-up dates.

3. ADVOCATES

Advocates are key stakeholders and/or a mentor who can be trusted. They are also motivated to provide on-going feedback and offer suggestions for change to the leader’s plan.

  • Advocates are best at the 360 degree levels: direct reports, peers and managers.
  • Recruit 4-5 advocates who agree to serve as feedback providers over the course of the year for your continued development.
  • Use the FeedForward process to help advocates be most effective.
  • Approach advocates at least quarterly for suggestions and recommendations on improving your leadership effectiveness.

Next week we’ll review some samples of a 12 month leadership development strategic plan so you will be able to create one to help guide you to career success.

2015 GOAL: Develop Leadership Skills And Effectiveness

Now is the perfect time to create an action plan for developing your leadership skills and effectiveness. While many people may have already given up on their resolutions or goals for the year, great leaders (and people who want to be great leaders) take time to conceive and generate a plan of action to reach their goals during the year. Here are 4 steps to help you get started.

1. SEEK FEEDBACK

Take time to sit down with key stakeholders, peers, team members and other direct reports to solicit their opinions on what you do well in your position and what you could improve upon. Reassure them that you truly want to improve your performance and their honest feedback is critical for you to understand those areas you can leverage for greater success and focus on the areas to develop. It’s only after you have a clear understanding of how you are perceived in the workplace as well as your strengths and weaknesses that you can begin to take steps to adjust them.

2. DEVELOP 2-3 GOALS

Increase your leadership effectiveness by setting SMART goals. Use the feedback you gathered from your colleagues to identify 2-3 goals you wish to set to improve your performance. Remember that SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Oriented and Timely. If your goals don’t fulfill all of those criteria, then it will be difficult to achieve success on your goals. If you are unsure what goals to set for yourself, don’t hesitate to seek some ideas from your boss, mentor, team member or peer. Gaining insight through a different perspective will help you as you continue to grow your career in the future.

3. LEARN TO LISTEN AND COMMUNICATE BETTER

Be a more successful leader by learning to listen and communicate more clearly and with greater impact. Highly effective leaders improve their relationships at work, increase their followership, and collaborate better with others through clear, concise and inspiring communication. Practice your active listening skills by learning to be present in the moment and then clarify and validate what you hear. You’ll be able to understand the situation better, communicate your concern, and build trust in work relationships.

4. PURSUE NEW PROJECTS OR OUTSIDE HELP

Ask your leader for additional responsibilities, preferably in a new department or a different function, or ask to lead a new project. Show your employer that you desire to learn and grow as a leader, thus improving your chances of promotion. If you are unable to attain a new project to manage or gain new responsibilities, then consider using a leadership coach to help you develop your plan of action. It truly helps to have a confidential, trusted source who can help guide you in your leadership development and make recommendations to help you achieve success.

Begin this year with the focus, determination, and action necessary to make 2015 the year you thrive, achieve, and succeed in your career.

How Do I Get Promoted? – Strategic Development Plan Case Study

cps_strategic_agility

It’s simple, but sometimes leaders are in a rhythm performing their jobs for months and years and they have not stepped back and analyzed how they are doing it. To step out of the expected role and demonstrate your strategic agility takes many forms depending upon your company and role.

In this case study, Sam was a high potential multi-unit manager in a large global restaurant company. He had been with the company about 10 years and risen through the ranks from Manger to General Manager to Director of Operations (DO). He had been in his current role for about five years and was deemed promotable to the Regional VP role. The competition for these few promotional opportunities was very tough and he had six colleagues who also had the same amount of tenure in the DO role as Sam and also had some very strong performance.

Sam had distinguished himself as a consistently strong performer and was in the top five on just about every metric:  Profits, Staff and Management Retention, Sanitation, Overall Guest Satisfaction, Quality Service and Quality of Food. In spite of Sam’s stellar track record, the company placed Strategic Skills as critical in the VP role for a variety of reasons. These included a rapidly changing external environment, global expansion, lack of sufficient talent to fill key manager roles, and an inconsistent economy.

When I started working with Sam, I needed to help him prepare for the next level of leadership responsibility and help show the senior leader decision makers that he had strategic skills and needed opportunities to demonstrate this outside of his normal role. We also knew Sam had the ability based on a Critical Thinking Assessment we use in evaluating candidate for promotion and development. Leaders who score higher on this assessment have the capability to handle new and complex situations and problem, and make sound decisions with the data they have at the time. Sam’s goal to help him develop and display strategic skills was: Leverage strategic skills to further impact the business within 12 months.

cps_strategic_agility

Here are the action steps on his development plan that, when executed, helped Sam display his strategic skills:

  1. Improve my delegation skills. The aim of this step was to help Sam emerge from the details, find time in his week to work on strategic tasks, and develop his potential successor.
  2. Subscribe to industry publications. The aim of this step was to broaden his knowledge and understanding of the industry and to be able to have discussions with senior leaders that demonstrated his outside-in critical thinking.
  3. Communicate my vision for the Area to key stakeholders for comments and support. The aim of this step was to get Sam used to developing longer-range goals and plans as well as communicating these to his team, peers and senior leaders.
  4. Display my long-range planning horizon to senior leaders of the company. The industry requires the field jobs to be very tactical and ensure every detail is executed flawlessly. When Sam met senior leaders, he typically discussed the myriad of details and tactics and they were fine with this since they could get updated on the business. What Sam started doing was to change the nature or the conversations with senior leaders during his opportunities to meet with them. For example, he developed several questions to incorporate into his conversations:  What do you see as the most critical issues facing the company in 3-5 years? What opportunities do they see as critical for the company to capitalize on the capture more market share? What is the competition doing that concerns them and how can we thwart their initiatives?
  5. Lead a task force that is focused on an enterprise-wide business opportunity. While this action step has multiple benefits, the main one was to show senior leaders that Sam was capable of addressing larger-scale business issues which were much more complex than those he faced in his Area.

After 12 months Sam had executed his action plan steps and went through a very rigorous evaluation process along with his peers in line for the VP job opportunity. Sam was able to demonstrate his strategic skills and based on this, along with his performance and support from peers and colleagues, he was promoted and is thriving in his new role.

Development Planfor Top Leaders

12 Month Sample Leadership Development Plan

A 12 month leadership development plan is essential to identifying, planning and executing a path to success. It is the key to implementing those strategies to help any leader develop the skills necessary to move up the career ladder. Last week I discussed the 3 main parts of a successful 12 month development plan and here is a sample leadership development plan to help you create your own.

DEVELOPMENT AREAS

Identify the areas you want to focus on for improvement and then select the action steps needed to make it happen by the target dates. For instance:

CPS Dev Plan V1 revised resized 600

STRENGTHS TO LEVERAGE

Every leader has talent in many areas that they simply may not be using to their full advantage. Next, identify your strengths that you can leverage for greater success and effectiveness. For example:

CPS Dev Plan V2 resized 600

LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS

The next to creating your leadership development plan is to focus on those behaviors you need to STOP, START and CONTINUE doing. See below for an example.

CPS sample leadership development plan

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The last part of your 12 month development plan asks you to define what success looks like to you. How will you measure whether you’ve been successful achieving your development goals? For example:

CPS Dev Plan V4 resized 600

Take the time to complete your leadership development plan now and utilize it to improve your effectiveness as a leader. The rewards of creating and implementing your strategic plan will result in building stronger relationships at work, increasing productivity, improving your performance and benefiting your career and the company as a whole. For a complete 12 month plan and toolkit, download our sample leadership development plan here.

Development Planfor Top Leaders

How Do I Get Promoted? – Create A Leadership Development Plan

cps_effective leadership development tools

Developing your leadership skills is hard work. By using effective leadership development tools such as a leadership development plan, you can begin to take the steps needed to put you on the path to success.

Creating a leadership development plan is the most critical step toward your success in achieving even greater leadership impact than you currently have today. I have found that more progress will be made if you treat your leadership development like any other development project. If you don’t set goals and document your actions there is a much greater chance your time and attention will be distracted by your day-to-day demands in your role.

Once you select your competency areas to develop (see previous blog on self-assessments), it is time to prepare your development goals and it is important for you to have goals that help you focus your energies and efforts, give you milestones to measure, and motivate you to continually succeed in your job activities. Like all goals, development goals should take on the SMART characteristics to increase the likelihood of successful accomplishment S – Smart, M – Measureable, A – Attainable, R- Realistic, T – Timely.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE KEY QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF AS YOU CREATE THE PLAN FOR EACH OF THE DEVELOPMENT GOALS:

  • What are you trying to achieve (Your goal!)?
  • What are the 4-6 major action steps to get to achievement?
  • What support/resources do you need?
  • What are the barriers or obstacles to prevent progress?
  • How might you overcome these?
  • What is the timeframe to complete each step?

The next step is to create your action plan and use the template below to help. Download a sample leadership development plan here to help you create an effective leadership plan.

12 month leadership development plan & toolkit