“Before we lead others, we must first learn to lead our own lives.”
I was inspired to write this post after sitting next to a gentleman on a flight who had recently obtained his PhD. After we had been speaking for just a short while, he realized that he had just spent the last 5 years of his life being completely focused and intent on completing his degree. Now that he had attained this goal, he had no idea what his long-term personal leadership vision was.
The issue he was facing was that he could not see past the next three years. After searching for motivation in his current role, he realized that the lack of clarity about his long-term vision for his own life was a significant factor that was missing.
“I’ve often said, having a clear strategic picture of our future is a key element of success.”
Personal Clarity Boosts Motivation
As a leader, one of the most important things you will have learned at the start of your career is how to motivate a team. You will know that each member of your team is driven by different things. But did you ever stop to consider what motivates you?
So many leaders become so intently focused on their targets, their business objectives, their immediate KPIs and other more immediate matters that they forget to set aside the time to review their own future plans for success.
It goes without saying that many leaders get a boost when their department, organization, and individual team members do well. And rightly so. For many, the achievement of targets and business objectives is a huge source of motivation. But is it enough?
How Long Should a Personal Leadership Plan Last?
As leaders, we are all aware of the short-term plan. Whether that be for the next quarter or the next year, the plan for this period is already laid out pretty clearly.
When I talk about taking a long-term view, you need to consider what your five-year plan looks like. Once you have taken time out to evaluate what matters to you most as a leader, you need to ensure that your plan is updated periodically. This can either be in the form of a quick monthly review or a more comprehensive check at the end of each quarter. Simply setting aside 30 minutes a month or a single hour each quarter to focus on this plan can help give you better clarity and ensure that you are working towards the right goals that align with your personal values and leadership goals.
Although it’s likely that your plan may change or evolve as targets are achieved or outside influences alter the landscape; as long as you review your plan periodically and account for these changes, you can maintain a consistent level of clarity that serves both to keep you focussed and motivated. I refer to this periodic check-in as your ‘Leadership Realignment’ and Tune-Up, which is much like taking your car in for some maintenance or a service.
Enhance Your Personal Leadership Qualities
I recently published a post about why your individual values matter in personal leadership; if you have a moment, this will make an excellent place to head over to next!
Both your own objectives and your plan for the future can help to enhance your personal leadership attributes. In turn, this helps your team and anyone who works around you to have a better level of clarity on what’s expected of them, and what it is that you value.
Being a personal leader can help to guide better decision making, it provides clarity, it can help you to influence others, and reduce tension in a team.
When you have a clear picture that encompasses your own goals and objectives, this can also help to shape your decision making, provide clarity, and create a more compelling case that can influence and inspire those around you.
As a leader myself, and someone who provides strategic leadership coaching, I speak from experience when I talk with my clients about the importance of having a clear plan that helps them to visualize where they want to be and what they want to be doing five years from now.