Professional development is a long-standing process aimed at improving the skill sets of employees, most often, with the intent of promotion within an organization. This improvement of skills is not confined in the realm of professional acumen or knowledge a person can attribute to their workplace. Successful people realize they must work to develop their ‘soft skills’ as much, if not more, than their professional aptitude. These soft skills can include their ability to handle stress, communicate effectively and work in group settings.
I do not have any discernible past leadership experiences. Instead, I try to use the examples and experiences I have had the opportunity to witness in my current position. At this time, I work as a global recruiter for Johnson and Johnson. In this role, I am afforded the opportunity to work with hiring managers to identify candidates for interview. I work collaboratively with these decision-makers to establish needs for their department. With a clear understanding of the needs of the organization, even departmentally, I am better equipped to effectively recruit talented individuals who possess the needed skills, experience, and education needed for the position. Having the opportunity to work with these hiring managers also provides the opportunity to better appreciate the responsibilities they have and the approach they take to do the job. Not surprisingly, with the sheer number of different managers I interact with, experience has shown, there are myriad of ways/approaches managers take. Each manager has a different set of characteristics they are looking for. Often, they are looking for someone who matches the cultural competency they feel will blend seamlessly with the personalities of the rest of the team, while still possessing the requisite skill sets. Again, each team dynamic is different, so working closely with these managers is the only way to adequately address these needs.
When deciding to review my current leadership traits, I reflect back upon recent performance reviews of my soft skills, as well as comments I heard from supervisors and co-workers. It is said I possess a high level of energy, which has influenced my teams on occasion. I possess high levels of integrity and pride myself on ethical standards. I possess an emotional maturity beyond my years of professional experience. Lastly, I possess a high-level of self-confidence, based on my past successes and willingness to learn. In order to execute a solid professional development plan, an employee has to remember three surprising truths. First, it is up to the employee, so they cannot rely on or expect management to care more. Second, the plan is never final. It will adapt as needs and circumstances change. Third, the plan is never completed. Learning is a lifelong process. (Scivicque, 2011)
Do not believe, as Jacquelyn Smith (2013) shares “promotions are based on merit alone” (par. 5). Many employees have shown significant frustration when they believe they were passed over for a promotion based on their work successes. The ability to do a job effectively does not translate into effective leadership. Instead, one must also develop their leadership skills as adeptly to advance their career.
In my current organization, my daily responsibilities do not afford the opportunity to take many leadership programs. As such, I need to develop my leadership skills through experiential learning. As pointed out in the text, “much of the skill needed for effective leadership is learnt from experience rather than from formal training programs” (Yukl, 2012. p 384). According, there are a number of exercises I will utilize to hone skills I believe are necessary to exhibit effective leadership abilities. Focus areas will consist of problem solving, effective listening, conflict resolution, developing and conducting training sessions, and managing groups vs. managing individuals.
To improve the leadership skills I need to advance, I would implore training exercises containing multisource feedback. Working with my supervisor, I would create developmental assignments I could work on in conjunction to my current responsibilities. These assignments would have increased levels of accountability as the weeks progress. Secondly, I would approach a successful supervisor in my organization to serve as my mentor. This person and I would meet weekly to strategize. Lastly, I would seek to assume a mentor role for 1-2 persons on my team, as selected by my supervisor to show my aptitude, willingness and ability to lead.
This plan will not be a short-term plan. It will be an exercise in continuous improvement, which is: “get good at something, then getting better, and then aiming to be our best” (Benna, S, 2015). Feedback will be sought from my immediate supervisor on a weekly basis during our one-on-one. On a quarterly basis, objectives and goals will be developed for the upcoming quarter, as well as a review of the results of the previous.
As this professional development plan evolves, it is understood I am ultimately the person with the majority to win or lose. My passion to advance within my company will provide the motivation to execute this plan while at work, while also taking the time to do some learning outside of my work hours. While off work, I will read three (3) leadership books a month. Additionally, I will participate in simulation trainings aimed at developing specific traits, such as effective listening and problem solving.
Yukl, G, (2012). Leadership in Organizations. 8th edition. Prentice Hall
Benna, S. (2015). 8 Traits the World’s Most Successful People Share. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/8-traits-the-worlds-most-successful-people-share-2015-7
Scivicque, C. (2011). Creating Your Professional Development Plan: 3 Surprising Truths. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2011/06/21/creating-your-professional-development-plan-3-surprising-truths/
Smith, J. (2013). 16 Mistakes Employees Make When Trying to Get a Promotion. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/10/24/16-mistakes-employees-make-when-trying-to-get-a-promotion/