RESOURCES FOR REACHING PEAK LEADERSHIP FITNESS
As you take that first step and continue along your path to peak leadership fitness, consider the following resources as a quick reference toolkit to help think through, plan for, and try out leadership development activities. You should adapt these resources based on your personal experiences and the unique context from which you will apply them.
Leadership Fitness Cost-Impact Matrix
Peak Leadership Fitness Plan Template
Sample Peak Leadership Fitness Plan
A Practical Collection of Core Leadership Skills
Mentoring Roles, Guidelines, and Resources
Preparing for a Successful Job Shadow Experience
Sample Job Shadow Discussion Guide and Focus Areas
Summary of Peak Leadership Fitness Tips
LEADERSHIP FITNESS COST-IMPACT MATRIX
Limited resources (time and money) and not knowing where to start are the two biggest challenges most leaders face when it comes to their development. Use the Leadership Fitness Cost-Impact Matrix to help make decisions and prioritize development activities that meet your specific needs. This sample matrix plots different activities for taking your leadership pulse, strengthening your core, and building strength and maintaining flexibility.
PEAK LEADERSHIP FITNESS PLAN TEMPLATE
Use this template to create your own leadership fitness plan. Make sure you document, detail, prioritize, and track what you are going to do as part of your plan. Revisit it and modify it as needed.
As a reminder, keep it to a single page so you can easily view and track your plan. I also recommend printing your plan and posting it in a location you see every day.
SAMPLE PEAK LEADERSHIP FITNESS PLAN
A PRACTICAL COLLECTION OF CORE LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Effective leaders must develop their technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, personal skills, and complex process skills. Together, these skills make up your core.
MENTORING ROLES, GUIDELINES AND RESOURCES
Mentoring is a knowledge-sharing relationship between two people—mentor and mentee—and it can take place at any stage of your leadership journey. The key to ensuring a successful mentoring relationship is having a plan and purpose and committing to it, while staying flexible. Use the information in this section to help understand each role, as well as how to set a mentoring agreement and what topics to talk about.
Learn and understand the goals and career aspirations of the mentee.
Act as a teacher and role model.
Provide guidance for on-the-job challenges.
Become a safe person with whom to discuss professional concerns.
Do not serve as or replace the mentee.
Provide insight into organizational culture and work ethic.
Guide mentee when taking charge of their career.
Support the professional development of the mentee and actively coach to achieve goals.
Provide an independent view of technical and nontechnical performance.
Make a commitment to be available and accessible to the mentee.
Provide honest feedback.
Agree to re-evaluate the mentor relationship as the development needs of the mentee evolve.
Take primary responsibility for coordinating the mentoring process (such as setting meetings and creating the agenda).
Maintain primary responsibility for their professional development.
Assess strengths and development needs, and prepare to discuss performance and career-related issues.
Be open to constructive feedback.
See value in using the mentor as a resource when creating and implementing a development plan.
Commit to learning and developing skills addressed during mentoring sessions.
The Mentoring Agreement
The mentoring agreement is a foundation for the relationship. The following are some suggested topics to discuss and agree upon during the first meeting.
Confidentiality. Agree to respect sensitive and personal information shared during sessions.
Time. Set the frequency of meetings and accessibility of the mentor. Also, agree on the length and location of the meetings.
Expectations. Review and agree upon roles and responsibilities.
Goals. Establish mentee goals (ideally tied to performance feedback).
Progress report. Decide how progress will be measured.
Agenda. Determine what preparation should be accomplished by both the mentor and mentee before each session.
Potential Meeting Topics
Beyond the necessary agreements listed, you can review several discussion topics to give direction to the mentor relationship. Here are some sample topics that can be addressed during the first meeting, as well as over the course of the relationship:
professional and educational backgrounds
performance feedback and areas for performance improvement
current projects and daily challenges
current career and development goals and challenges
thoughts on what it takes to succeed
effective communication with stakeholders, peers, and colleagues
potential development opportunities
career path opportunities and concerns.
PREPARING FOR A SUCCESSFUL JOB SHADOW EXPERIENCE
Job shadowing can be a powerful development tool. To get the most from a shadow experience, you must have a plan. Your role as a shadow host is, ultimately, to deepen the employee’s understanding of your area of expertise and demonstrate the necessary tools and educational background that make you successful in your job. Use these steps to create a successful shadowing experience.
Prepare in Advance
Understand who the shadowees are (background, role, and experience).
What are you going to teach them (specific activities or experience)?
If appropriate, assign pre-read materials (a project overview or meeting agenda).
Notify shadowees of specific requirements for shadowing (meeting location, attire for meeting or client visit, and travel info).
Determine the learning objectives for the employee’s shadow.
Share your background, role, and experience.
Be prepared to answer shadowee questions (listed on the next page).
Get to know shadowees, including their background, role, and experience.
Introduce shadowees to people with whom you interact.
Provide an overview of the shadow agenda and learning objectives.
Provide background info on the client, project, meeting, or work for the day.
Share how to interact:
» with each other when there are questions
» with clients, customers, and stakeholders.
Explain the work:
» What are you doing when you work on a meeting, project, and so forth?
» What will you do related to the work after today?
How does this fit the big picture?
Ask shadowees what they learned from the experience. What stood out?
Ask if they have any ideas, suggestions, or insights related to the project or activities.
Leave time to allow them to ask questions.
SAMPLE JOB SHADOW DISCUSSION GUIDE AND FOCUS AREAS
The following questions are to help the shadowees focus on what they want from their job shadow experience. The list is illustrative and the focus should be based upon the objectives of the job shadow. Note: Not all questions are applicable under all circumstances.
Why did you select this profession?
What experiences helped you prepare for this job or role?
What do you like most about this job? Why?
What does it mean to be successful here?
What are your professional goals?
What are your general responsibilities, duties, or tasks?
What kinds of problems do you solve?
What skills or knowledge do you need to solve these problems?
What tools, resources, or technology do you typically use?
What kinds of decisions do you make?
How do you manage your time on one project? Multiple projects?
Who are your stakeholders?
What is the goal of the project?
What are your responsibilities on the project?
What are the challenges of the project?
What are the deliverables?
Who is the client?
How do you interact and communicate with the client?
How did you prepare for this engagement?
How are decisions made? How are those decisions communicated to employees?
What skills and characteristics does the firm value? What gets rewarded or punished?
How are expectations communicated?
How do people from different departments interact?
Are there opportunities for further training and education?
What does it take to succeed here?
SUMMARY OF PEAK LEADERSHIP FITNESS TIPS
Each chapter in part 2 concluded with fitness tips to help you get the most out of your development activities. Here’s a complete list for easy reference.
Fitness Tips to Get Started
Mix it up! Incorporate a variety of learning media into your development.
Make leadership development fun.
Always incorporate opportunities to practice what you learn, get feedback, and reflect.
Fitness Tips for Taking Your Pulse
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Complete a reliable 360-degree assessment and build your development plan using the results.
Take initiative with feedback: seek it, accept it, and act on it.
Ask someone from your team to give you feedback following a meeting or presentation.
Give yourself a grade on the most important leadership activity of the day.
Print your fitness plan and place it in a location you will see each day.
Keep your leadership fitness plan handy; never go more than two weeks without reviewing your plan.
Take your leadership pulse often. Do it formally every 12-18 months, and informally at least weekly.
Fitness Tips to Strengthen Your Core
If someone tells you to work on your leadership skills, ask for specificity.
Although all leaders need to continue to strengthen their core, those earlier in their career should spend more time in this area.
Effort trumps ability, but you should make every effort to combine effort and ability.
Never take a leadership course on something that you will not have the opportunity to put into practice in the very near term.
Find activities that help you build or reinforce your core on a daily or weekly basis to stay current in key areas.
Immediately following every formal leadership development activity you participate in, write down two to three of the best ideas you learned and how you will incorporate them into your routine.
Fitness Tips to Maintain Flexibility
When starting out with informal learning, keep it simple. Try learning about a different part of the business from a colleague or read about your industry.
Incorporate at least one development activity from each informal leadership development category.
Find a leadership fitness buddy to challenge and support you throughout your journey.
Schedule a meet and greet with someone in your organization whom you don’t know. (Extra tips: Come prepared with questions to understand their department and function. Be respectful of their time.)
Find at least one person you can go to for leadership advice.
Become a mentor to someone in your professional network.
Volunteer to teach a class or give a presentation at a professional association.
Participate in a ride-along or shadow someone from your team or other part of your organization.
Read at least three business books a year and one article a month.
Commit to trying one new approach to informal learning and share your lessons learned with a peer, colleague, or friend.
Fitness Tips to Build Your Leadership Endurance
Once you achieve a leadership fitness goal, set a new one.
Prior to undertaking a leadership activity, ask a trusted colleague to provide feedback at the end. Be specific on what they should look for.
Seek recovery by pausing and reflecting on your leadership and what you are learning.
Have a clear and compelling reason for why you want to be the best leader you can be.
Set a rule in your house for a device-free zone and device-free hours.
Take your first step toward peak leadership fitness today.