We have discussed natural systems, including organizations, and how they are periodically subject to disturbance. Things are growing, building, on the rise, and then suddenly growth flatlines and becomes rocky. We require a new vision to reorganize ourselves and adapt to the challenges at hand so that we can begin to rise again. For those of us who lead teams in a corporate environment, now is a great time to formulate a middle management personal development plan.
This COVID-19 crisis is as vivid an example of disturbance as we have seen. Both companies and individuals are experiencing profound shifts and disruptions. To put it plainly, for many of us the old ways of doing things aren’t working. Whether we are senior leaders at major companies, or individuals looking for new work, now is a brilliant time to go back to the tool shed and come up with a new, inspiring vision for the future… which, by the way, is the first step to becoming a high performance leader, in and out of the office.
Whether you are working remotely, still going to work, or currently licking your wounds from a recent layoff, we would like to offer some ideas for articulating a new vision for your life and career, and putting together a personal development plan to accomplish it.
Let’s discuss how to put together a middle management personal development plan for your leadership development and career training.
Take Stock Of Your Current Condition
At the time of this writing, Americans have been following shelter-in-place orders for over a month. Each household has been affected, and I imagine each has been coping as best they can. No matter what your situation has been, it is quite likely that you’ve had more time than usual to reflect on your life and career. How have you utilized that time?
Before landing upon an inspiring new future and moving toward it, we begin with taking stock of our current situation.
One great way of doing this is getting a warm mug of tea or coffee, and sitting down in a quiet place reflecting on questions like these:
What has been working in my life? What has been working in my career?
How are my relationships? With family members? Friends? Colleagues?
How am I? How do I feel about myself, my life?
What needs to change?
Where do I want to be 2 years from now? 5 years? 10?
When we take time to care for ourselves by deeply inquiring about our current state of affairs, we have an opportunity to honestly assess our victories and defeats, and our areas for growth.
Before the COVID-19 shutdown, there were many more opportunities to stay busy, or even distracted. With activity reduced so drastically, taking stock of our current situation is one of the best ways we can express regard for ourselves, or lives and careers, and even for those who care about us and love us.
The World Has Abruptly Changed.. What Will You Do?
The world has changed, and quite abruptly. Having reflected on our current state of affairs, we have three different choices for responding to the present. We can:
- Attempt to recreate the past.
- Sit tight and hope things go back to normal
- Create a new vision
Choices A and B are protective reactions to remain with what is known and familiar, to remain in our comfort zone. Unfortunately, when the world changes around us, attempts to recreate the past or use hope as a strategy for things returning to normal typically fail.
Choice C is the first step we take if we choose to venture into the unknown, toward a better, happier, improved life and career. If we select Choice C, we require a vision. Something that will inspire us, and that will empower us to persist through the inevitable challenges that will arise on our journey.
Creating A Vision Statement
What is a vision statement exactly? It is a frame of reference for your desired future that informs your activities and goal setting. It must be:
Short and to the point. It’s okay if it is a little bit creative or even poetic, because it must be inspiring to you. It should affect your emotions and powerfully draw you forward.
An idealistic, generalized statement. In other words, you don’t need to get into the details of how you will accomplish your vision, or even when. One great example is Southwest Airlines’ vision statement: “To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.”
It is a reference point for planning. Your goals and projects can be developed as responses to your inspiring vision statement.
Use Your Vision Statement For Gap Analysis
There’s no right or wrong way to create your vision. The key is how it makes you feel. And if it generally points you in the right direction, then you have enough. You can always update later as you reflect on it.
With your vision statement in hand, it is time to administer a Gap Analysis – what is the gap between your current state and your vision?
It is time to assess what to Keep, Delete, and Create New, in order to close the Gap.
Keep – Delete – Create New
The Keep – Delete – Create New framework is a simple and helpful tool for beginning the process of strategizing execution of your new vision. It is how you are going to assemble your personal development plan for becoming a high performance leader in your life and work.
What To Keep
Human beings as ancestral hunters are oriented toward going after things – which is why keeping and creating new tend to come more easily to us than getting rid of, or deleting things.
While there are qualities and aspects of our lives that we will be deleting through this process, we always begin with what we already have that is worth keeping.
What do you do well? What in your current state is serving your new vision? Are you a world-class goal-setter? Keep it. Have you invested in your growth and development, so that self-awareness is cultivated? Definitely keep.
A sampling of other qualities includes:
- Coaching Others
What To Delete
Now, it is time to get into the really important part of this process, which is what to delete. This section more than any other, requires total honesty and sober self-reflection. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to bring shame down upon you, or to negate your value, but to really identify what needs to be discarded on the way to embodying and achieving your new vision.
This is also a very difficult step, because of blind spots. The best approach is to reach out to people in your circle of trust and ask for feedback. If you ask sincerely with a desire to know the truth, this can be among the most valuable things you can do in life. Feedback is the least expensive, most effective management tool I have ever come across.
Here is a sampling of qualities that past students have turned up in our Accelerated Leadership Program:
- Command and Control
- Culture of Fear
- Out of Integrity
- Personal Politics
- Passive Aggressive Behavior
What To Create New?
Finally, we complete our middle management personal development plan by identifying what we would like to Create New in our lives and careers to help us accomplish our new vision. This part can be incredibly fun because it will require us to move out of our comfort zones and learn new things, develop new qualities, and generally advance on our path of development. Many will say that this sort of growth, development, and challenge is what being alive is all about.
The same sorts of qualities that appear on Keep lists often appear on Create New lists. These are qualities such as:
- Deep Listening
- Inspirational Leadership
Another creative way to approach this is to reflect upon the ideal man or woman. What would they be like? What would their qualities be, and how would the world respond to them? Identify ten qualities that define your ideal person, and get those on your Keep / Create New list.
Developing a vision for your future life and career, and a middle management personal development plan to accomplish it… is a process. Follow your lists and begin setting up goals that align with your vision. Need accountability? Get a friend to do a quick morning accountability phone call with you every day. Whether it is calendaring the time blocks you’ll require, booking a slot in an online course, or keeping your network engaged – take the next step toward your vision. And don’t forget to set aside time with your spouse, life partner, children or loved ones.
If you wish to inquire further about how to develop into a high performance leader, feel free to contact us.