Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash
Leadership Lessons from 2017
2017 was a year full of lessons, so we asked a few of our team members to share one thing they learned this year. From lessons about developing millennial leaders to how to learn leadership, here are their takeaways for organizational success.
Linda Dausend: No leader is an island; the leaders of today grow and thrive together as teams
I've had an opportunity this year to join in a variety of leadership development experiences with my clients and I love having the opportunity to facilitate discussions, discoveries, and insights. Throughout 2017 I've seen how leaders are being strengthened, not only through the knowledge they acquire from the content, but from each other.
The new leaders of today are more collaborative and supportive of each other. They thrive when they get to interact with each other, share successes and challenges, and discuss common organizational goals and actions. As a result, these leaders are able to impact their work – and their company's work – through a deeper understanding of how they can work effectively together with their colleagues to make a difference.
Andrea Davis: Becoming a better leader starts with having a vision for yourself
Who you are now as a leader doesn’t define the leader you can be in the future. For example, I’ve seen leaders who are so overwhelmed by feedback they receive from a 360 assessment that they get mired down in the leader they aren’t, not able to even develop a vision for who they want to be or how they can get there.
Being a good leader is learning continuously and becoming a better version of yourself at each opportunity. It’s a slow and determined process of setting goals, achieving them, and challenging the process to improve in other ways. The best time to get started on your leadership development journey is now.
Bill Mugavin: Truly Learning leadership requires hard work, discipline, and intentionality
One of the things that I’ve really had reinforced this year is the amount of intentionality and discipline required to truly learn leadership. Each time I work with leaders – no matter what leadership development program they go through, what they study, how many days they spend in a learning session, or what level they are at – I see how self-discipline and being purposeful contribute to being a good leader and manager in the day-to-day.
While the skills themselves are a constant, leadership is about being adaptive: thinking deeply about the skill you are learning, fitting it into your daily life, and being purposeful about applying it in the proper context. Effective leaders apply the same leadership skills differently based on the person in front of them, which of course can be a challenge since the context around you and the person in front of you are constantly changing.
This is why it’s so critical for leaders to have compassion and understanding of others as they adapt to who they are leading, plus the courage and discipline to apply those skills daily. Leadership is a challenge. It’s about molding to what’s around you and creating a constant in an ever-shifting environment. Overall, it is a matter of will. Do you really want to do it? If you do, then you can achieve it.
Krista Skidmore: Now is the time to develop our millennial talent, because they are the people leaders of today
For quite some time now organizations have been talking about assimilating millennials into the workforce, but that ship has sailed. Millennials already are the majority of our workforce and nearly half of them are in leadership positions today. Our leadership development focus and investment must accelerate so they have the skills and tools they need to achieve results with and through their teams. Right now, we aren’t doing enough.
Research from Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey shows that millennials are feeling left behind when it comes to development: 63 percent report their leadership skills are not being fully developed and 50 percent say their company is not only missing the leadership development mark, but they feel their organizations aren’t developing them generally in their careers either. Let’s not leave an entire generation of leaders in the desert thirsting for the skills to make a bigger impact. After all, they aren't the leaders of tomorrow, they are leading now and we should equip them—in other words help them to help us grow, innovate, and lead our organizations into the future.
Tracy Puett: Leadership is about relationships
Across many manager and leader development workshops, multiple coaching interactions, and dozens of client calls where we solved challenges, 2017 has convinced me even further that it is the quality of our relationships that define our individual and organizational success. More than organizational structure, more than strategy, more than project execution from a technical perspective; I believe that the biggest lever across the fulcrum of life is our ability to engage in candid, powerful conversations that deepen our relationships at home or on the job.
We are faced with change at a previously unimaginable scale, in addition to complexity across pretty much all industries. The variety of human experience and perspective means we have a workforce that is more diverse in many ways than ever before. And, frankly, it is unnerving to so many I interact with. The task is significant. But at the individual, team, and organizational levels, the thing that makes the biggest difference is our relationships.
I am honored to be working with so many amazing leaders across a wide variety of industries. Leadership is important work and leaders make a difference! Congratulations on your accomplishments in 2017 and a toast to successful relationships yet to be realized in 2018!