Embracing Growth: 10 Leadership Development Goals for Tomorrow’s Leaders

We’re undergoing a generational shift in the workplace. Baby boomers are retiring en masse, leaving younger generations to step into leadership positions. Yet, we’re also seeing a lot of reluctance from capable workers who are poised to lead. 

Why don’t these workers want to step into new roles? Many are worried about changing workplace dynamics, while others are afraid of taking the blame for perceived failures.

How can we prepare tomorrow’s leaders to overcome these internal hurdles and feel confident and capable? Read on about the ten leadership development goals that every future leader should strive for.

1. Cultivating Adaptability and Resilience

No one wants to work for a leader who gets stuck in their ways. In fact, the inability (or, more often, unwillingness) to adapt is what sends a lot of businesses to their early graves.

There’s a reason why we emphasize adaptability in the workplace above all other things. When you’re adaptable, you don’t shy away from the evolution of your industry and the world around you. You navigate everything from market shifts to organizational transitions with the bravery to try and the confidence to pivot as needed.

Adaptability and resilience go hand in hand in the modern workplace. Adaptability ensures that you’ll manage and oversee the changes that need to happen. Resilience ensures that you’ll have the wherewithal to do it over and over again. The writing is on the wall. Leadership Development Goals must include building adaptability and resilience.

2. Embracing Strategic Thinking and Decision-Making

We make decisions every day, from what to wear to what to pack for lunch. When we aren’t faced with variety or new challenges, however, it becomes easy to start making the same decisions day after day. You don’t have to think strategically about how to get to work when you know the route by heart.

As a leader, you can’t expect the same routine to work time and again. You also shouldn’t encourage your team to operate with the mentality that familiarity is preferable to improvement. Even if it requires dusting off some mental cobwebs, it’s time to embrace strategic thinking to start making better decisions.

Strategic thinking is all about evaluating calculated risks. It’s about aligning your growth mindset with your industry expertise. There’s no guarantee that every decision you make will be the best decision, but you’ll drive toward organizational success when you and your team can see both the forest and the trees.

3. Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Leaders of the past often made the mistake that technical knowledge and the kind of intelligence you can gain from books was enough to run a workplace effectively. Today’s leaders are more aware that it also takes emotional intelligence to create a safe workplace culture.

Emotional intelligence includes skills like empathy. Your team may not always meet expectations or perform to the best of their abilities. Empathy allows you, as their leader, to understand why and to find solutions that work for everyone.

Emotional intelligence also includes self-awareness. No matter how capable you are as a leader, you are always prone to making the occasional mistake. Self-awareness ensures that you can recognize what you’ve contributed to an outcome, both good and bad.

4. Using Strong Communication Skills

You may have heard the adage that you’ve only mastered a skill when you can teach it to someone else. This concept speaks to the need for communication skills. Whether you’re running a company of ten employees or a thousand, your ability to communicate will make or break your success.

Being a good communicator requires more than the confidence for public speaking. It means breaking down complex subjects in digestible ways. It means practicing active listening and applying conflict management tools as needed. 

Strong communication skills don’t come naturally to most people. As you’re setting goals to become a leader, take every opportunity you can to practice and improve your ability to communicate in different environments.

5. Promoting Ethical Leadership

Company culture starts with your company’s values and the way those values show up at all levels of operation. As a leader, it’s up to you to create a foundation on ethics. 

On a basic level, ethical leadership involves practicing and instilling values such as:

  • Integrity (doing what’s right no matter who’s watching)
  • Accountability (taking ownership of your mistakes)
  • Transparency (operating with all cards on the table)
  • Fairness (distributing workloads and resources equitably) 
  • Compliance (abiding by regulations and laws)

As the world continues to evolve, so should your consideration of ethical practices and ethical risk factors. A good example is the emergence of AI and how to use it in the workplace. As an ethically-minded leader, you should always weigh the cost of doing what’s easy against the cost of doing what could be harmful. 

6. Encouraging Innovation and Creativity

Innovation and adaptability are often two sides of the same coin. When you encourage innovation within your company, you find new ways to tackle problems both old and new. 

Because innovation has long been a buzzword in the world of business leadership, it’s helpful to think of innovation through the lens of creativity. A creative workplace approaches problem-solving with an open mind and a high tolerance for risk. There’s a sense that in trying and failing, there’s always something to be gained.

Practicing and allowing creativity can foster a positive environment. Innovation can breed fun and excitement alongside lucrative growth and success. When you reward your team for creative thinking, you build their confidence and start to notice who among them has leadership potential. And start to embed creativity in their leadership development goals.

7. Facilitating Mentorship

In the shift toward a more educated workforce, many companies moved away from older training models. Rather than hiring staff based on potential and teaching them the skills they needed to excel, employers started looking only for workers who needed no additional training.

The problem? This approach made it much harder for up-and-comers to get their start. It also led to a sort of monoculture where entire companies were staffed by like-minded people with no fresh ideas.

As a modern leader, it’s time to reject the expectation that everyone arrive prepared. As you work toward your own leadership goals, take note of the way your own coaches and mentors operate. Facilitate an environment of mentorship to create more productive teams with increased upward mobility.

8. Fostering Inclusivity and Diversity

Embracing diversity widens your talent pool. It allows new perspectives and ideas to influence your company growth. However, hiring a diverse team isn’t enough if you’re not also striving for inclusivity and equity.

If there’s one thing every future leader should do, it’s become aware of their own biases. The modern workplace is rightfully becoming more diverse. When you’re bringing unconscious biases to your leadership role, it’s a detriment to your entire team.

Diversity without inclusion and equity leads to an unsafe work environment for many of your employees. This can impact everything from your company’s liabilities to your employee retention. Plus, it can mean missing out on serious potential.

9. Evaluating Impact

Leaders have a very different role to play than the employees that make up their company. You may not always be taking the smaller steps to meet a larger goal. However, you’re constantly overseeing the progress made to reach the larger goal.

Leaders must constantly evaluate the impact of their decisions and their company’s actions. How is the latest marketing strategy impacting your bottom line? What are your latest promoted employees doing to contribute to your overall success?

Evaluating impact also involves looking outward at the way your decisions impact your customers and the world. This is where having a clear sense of and commitment to your company values matters most. A good leader knows when to make changes to have a better impact on others, even when current operations benefit the business.

10. Committing to Learning

If there’s one thing all of these pillars of leadership have in common, it’s that the ability to evolve is crucial. The world will never stop changing and, in many ways, is changing faster now than ever before. Your job is to change with it, and that requires a commitment to learning new things.

It’s a mistake to believe that you’ll only need leadership coaching before you take on your new role. A good leader continues to read about leadership practices and go to conferences. A good leader takes extra time out of their schedule to complete courses and earn new certifications.

When you commit to continuous learning, you become a better person to work for and with. You don’t just learn from those who are “above” you. You recognize when those “below” you have something important to offer.

Ready to Set Your Leadership Development Goals?

If you’re here, you’re likely one of the people who is more than capable of becoming a leader but doesn’t feel ready. Working toward these leadership development goals will bring you the confidence and skills you need to step up.

Ira S Wolfe is one of the top thought leaders on the future of work. As one of the world’s first certified AQai consultants and WHYos coaches, he can help you excel on your path to leadership. Book Ira Wolfe today to start your journey.

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First things first: what does grit even mean? You’ve probably heard the advice “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” attributed to coach Kunte Rockne. That quote captures the essence of grit.  The character trait of grit often refers to passion, the consistency of interest, and perseverance, the ability to endure tough times.

For instance, we’ve all experienced setbacks. They could range from struggling to learn a new skill, recovering from an injury, losing a job, or even bankruptcy.

What Does Grit Look Like?

People with high levels of Grit are confident in achieving long-term goals. They are often described as ‘determined’ and ‘hard workers’. No-pain-no-gain might be the grit motto. Gritty people tend to keep going until the work is done. They take pride in finishing what they start. Their mental focus and emotional stamina are very high. They don’t let short-term gains, negative feedback, or hectic schedules deter them. People with high grit are not discouraged easily; they see setbacks and obstacles as challenges that can be overcome with commitment and hard work. Grit, however, is not always a good thing. Gritty people are often so focused on their goals that they get blinded-sided by outside influences and have blind spots when it comes to alternative ideas. 

People with low levels of grit give up quickly. Setbacks and obstacles easily discourage them. When change happens they can find it difficult to stay on course with long-term goals. They flee at the first sign of trouble and often blame others. They start a lot of projects but get discouraged easily. 

How Grit Can Help Your Business

Why is grit something you need to look for when hiring and developing employees? The future of work is full of opportunity but the journey will be anything but certain. Perseverance and passion will be needed in abundance. These are some scenarios where employees with grit become a beneficial trait for your company.

They Understand That Good Things Take Time

Millennials have often been criticized for their need for instant gratification. While it might be true for some of them, grit had to be part of this generation’s makeup. Now in their 30s and 40s, they have endured school shootings, 9/11 terrorism, and the Great Recession…and they are now growing and thriving. It’s only human to get frustrated when we don’t see the instant rewards from our work. Contributing to a project day in and day out, and not getting recognition or confronting bureaucratic idiocy, is disheartening. Many employees may be tempted to just quit.

If your employee has grit, however, they know good things take time. Setbacks are not failures, but part of the journey.  When personal interests align with goals, it’s easier to persevere and feel that your efforts will be rewarded. People with grit stay and push through.