top of page

Personal Leadership

Woman looking out a window and thinking

Growth is the winding vine that wraps around the stake planted in the career garden. In over 2 decades in Talent Management coaching and career development, this dialogue most frequently comes up when exploring where job satisfaction originates. Most importantly, we must learn how to plant the right seeds towards career fulfillment, how to write the story that will define your own fruitful version of success, and how to accurately gauge if in fact there is greener pasture.

Personal Leadership Can Be Broadly Defined

At any juncture and in any role, it is possible to take on new missions and expand career potential.  Growth may look like a change of duties or a shift of mindset; for example, to apply new technology to a challenge, approach an issue with a different perspective, or incorporate a new skill. Gaining new knowledge or introducing efficiency into a process can make you more valuable and can lead to new ways to participate in projects or teams.

While some leaders are given formal titles, there are truly impressive humans in every company who go above and beyond because they have an unmatched work ethic, a unique style of solving complex challenges, or are attuned to helping others achieve more than they thought possible. These individuals make a difference through the way they interact with others and the way they approach their duties.

Finding a Great Example of Personal Leadership

If you think back, you can likely remember a time when you looked up to someone – perhaps it was to a beloved family member, a favorite athlete, actor, or singer. Role models serve as a framework for success, and as we emerge into our own identity, it can be easy to forget their importance. Consider individuals who you admire in the workplace and the qualities or capabilities that make them stand out.

  • Are they knowledgeable? Do they offer clever ideas? When they speak, do others consider them to be credible?

  • Have they created a circumstance that helps others to do their best work? Are they known for offering support or practical solutions? Do they jazz others to share ideas or extend beyond their typical comfort zone?

  • Do you notice that they have an unusual ability to make connections? Are they skilled at building rapport with ease? Is it likely that before long a new face becomes their fast friend?

  • Might this person make others feel seen and heard through their efforts? Are they impressively intuitive, anticipating how someone may react to a situation or do they appear to keenly understand what might be inspiring for others?

  • Does this person get sought out for new workplace missions? Are they the top draft pick for every committee? Would they be invaluable when navigating an unexpected opportunity?

These are just a few examples that show how individuals can have tremendous value in how a business operates and can become distinguishing capabilities for standout recognition.

Growing Actively All the Time

Developing a mental model of what you wish to emulate and/or areas where you seek to further improve upon can help to focus your growth efforts.  In reflection, defining how and where you want to refine is one helpful tool to crafting your own special blend of personal leadership. Let’s look at those concepts from all angles, like examining fine art.

Reflect: In what situations are you often called upon for help?

Refine: In what scenarios would you like to be considered as a substantive resource more often?

Reflect: When and where do you find yourself making an impact?

Refine: How could you amplify your reach in the future?  What is holding you back?

Reflect: Beyond what you accomplish, HOW do you make it happen?

Refine: What capabilities or skills do you summon to yield results?  Could that capability or skill be applied in other circumstances more effectively?

Reflect: When you encounter a complex situation with various stakeholders, how do you steer or influence the outcome?

Refine: Do you often leave an impasse believing that all parties’ needs were met and everyone walked away satisfied? How could you navigate these touchy moments more productively or diplomatically?

Reflect: From whom might you learn how to refine your own tactics and approaches?

Refine: Where may you want to approach situations differently, but authentically?

Reflect: Are there times when you should pass off duties to others or work to train a colleague to free up your own time?

Refine: Learning when, where and how to delegate can be among the most significant leadership capabilities. This can free up your time for new opportunities and serves to upskill others, which may just be on that person’s leadership list!

Adjusting your style and approach can initially feel unnatural or even frustrating. Taking the time to challenge yourself and reflect where positive progress has been made and where you wish to keep focusing is an important component of your growth recipe.  When you are open to considering other methods, you may uncover an entire pathway to more fulfillment.  You can challenge yourself to stretch and experiment with new mannerisms.  That toolkit expansion is growth, and that willingness to keep evolving looks so good on you !

Step Away From Your Resume

Rather than wait for someone to notice your ambitions and potential, there are conversations you could be proactively having:

  • How do you demonstrate curiosity in what you are working on?

  • How might new technology play a role in helping to make your work more dynamic or more streamlined?

  • If there were a new assignment that hasn’t been done before, how might you share an interest in becoming involved?

  • Does anyone know what ambitions you have to keep expanding your impact?

  • Are you someone who is open to being a pioneer and trying something new that hasn’t been done before?

  • What are some of the challenges that require you to problem solve or troubleshoot? When has your input saved the day?  How could you build upon that?

  • Have you let your leader know that there are specific areas of focus that you recognize need some beefing up (time management, organizational skills, public speaking, business writing…)?

Before you get the itch to explore a new company, consider opportunities to take on new responsibilities or to enhance your own professional development – you could attend a training seminar or conference, work with a coach, partake in a field experience, or get paired with a buddy/mentor. Any of these tactics can unlock a brand-new pathway of thinking, planning or purposefully executing your duties.

10 Great Ways To Get Invited To Do Something New at Work

Some interesting growth steps:

  1. Jump in to assist to lessen others’ burden and maximize your learning. Pro-tip: offer to take notes at a meeting or support any initiative where you wouldn’t ordinarily be asked to attend.

  2. Acquire perspective by looking for complementary tasks to help you understand the scope of impact of your typical tasks. What activities or steps take place before or after your duties?

  3. Support the assessment of others involved in duties. This may perhaps be through interviewing, buddy proofing, documenting training guides, or creating statements of work.

  4. Become known as a Learn-It-All – way more powerful than a Know-It-All! Earn a reputation as someone who is in touch with new information and reads, listens, watches and shares industry information or new trends.

  5. Volunteer to do additional research on a new facet that has been in the news but is not yet implemented. Become a conduit to ideation and process improvements.

  6. Solicit input on ways you can continue to expand your reach. Candidly inquire about development areas that you can get working on. Where are your blind spots that are holding your back? What training might be recommended?  Being receptive to feedback makes it easier for others to offer input in real time.

  7. Great ideas often need a few iterations and can become more effective when work is critiqued at various stages to keep improving. Ask others to spit-ball ideas with you or become someone else’s brainstorm buddy.

  8. High standards show others that you value quality work and are willing to invest time and effort to deliver. Make an effort to show that your work is complete, thoughtful, and expansive by anticipating what the audience or customer will expect.  This includes internal customers and colleagues who are looking for excellence and ease of partnering.

  9. Working with individuals who are timely and organized can make work a pleasure. Are you seen as reliable and comprehensive in your solutions? Have you contemplated building in time for the unexpected hiccups that could occur?

  10. Listening with your whole body and all your senses to what is said, as well as what is being transmitted by body language or implicit messaging, ensures that you are someone others want to communicate with regularly.

Becoming known for excellence will permeate all that you do and the reputation you attain. As you gain credibility through proactivity, you will often be sought out to participate. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you intentionally steer your career.

Beat the Myths

There are some consistent themes and frequent myths that can trip up even the most motivated from nurturing a flourishing career:

Myth:  Leadership looks like managing people.

Truth: Leadership has many flavors – some leaders lead teams, while others are functional experts known for being credible authorities in their discipline.

Myth: To acquire status, one has to move to a different organization.

Truth: Align with a company that shares your values, makes an effort to solicit your opinion, and recognizes your accomplishments. Many remarkable individuals have grown with their business over time and had the opportunity to advance in different roles, as the business grows in tandem.

Myth: You should be certain about how you want to grow.

Truth: Being open to new duties and experiences allows you and your company to grow together. There may be capabilities that you possess and haven’t had a chance to deploy or to strengthen yet.  Rather than get fixated on one sure growth path, stay flexible, communicative, and energized around trying new things and being an adaptive resource wherever the need arises.

Myth: It is entirely up to the organization to determine what your growth plan will be.

Truth: Organizations are dynamic entities that are comprised of humans working together to pursue goals and initiatives. When fortunate, a person takes note of your contribution and helps to steer you to participate and keep learning.  Realistically, each individual is responsible for directing their own career efforts.  It is very empowering to discover ways to grow that are personally meaningful and interesting.  Don’t keep that a secret – hare it and ask your leader or colleagues to help keep you accountable for making that vision become a reality.

Myth: Growth is a destination — a promotion, a level of certification, an acceptance into a group.

Truth: While those milestones can be satisfying and may be indicative of knowledge acquisition or a version of recognition for efforts, the real growth will take place when you are able to do more things than before or have the chance to learn new skills that you did not previously possess.  Your internal definition of growth will also need to line up with the picture you craft of why that growth matters. Setting ambitious and feasible action plans will likely yield more overall satisfaction when achieved.

Myth: Your career path is static and already set.

Truth: Challenge accepted: let’s consider each day an opportunity to keep being curious! Exploring the world around you allows you to continue to learn, to acquire new skills, and to continuously challenge yourself.  If we set our professional goals to be ever-expanding and evolving then growth is not merely a destination, but rather a way of thinking and being at work.

Reach for the Moon

While some individuals steer with a straight path to accomplishment, many journey through exploration and curiosity to find innovative ways to contribute to their company and to expand their reach.  Realistically, some organizations may be more attuned to welcoming growth-seekers than others.  If you find yourself in a circumstance where there are chances to challenge yourself, express your interests, and you are encouraged to participate and add input, then you have found a growth haven. The greenest grass exists when you love what you do, are stimulated by learning and doing and feel supported by the professional community within which you operate. Dig right in, identify role models, and plot your success course!

2 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All



Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page