Using Leadership Development to Unlock your Team’s Potential

By Jonathan Wygant,

Most people are clear about the importance of investing in their personal and family’s financial future, but few understand how vital it is to invest in their own personal development. Doing so is not only valuable on a personal level, but can be the catalyst to your entire organization’s growth and success.

Since continuous learning will lead to continued growth, personal, professional, and leadership development needs to be the focus of everyone within your organization. Top thought leaders and experts agree that for a business to succeed learning should never stop, especially with regard to personal leadership development. Team members who are smart, motivated and purposeful with their careers and lives nourish their mind, body and spirit. This individual nourishment results in benefits to the entire team. An organization that doesn’t offer leadership development for its people will soon see their top achievers leaving. But whether or not your organization has programs in place, everyone must start with themselves.

How do you further your own personal leadership development? Successful organizations offer opportunities in the form of workshops, seminars and webinars. Learn about what your organization is offering and ask yourself what you need to do to expand your leadership abilities. Whether your organization offers assistance or not, you can start by performing a self-assessment. Ask yourself:

• Where am I successful and where are there opportunities for improvement?
• Where do my personal and professional relationships reflect a need for course correction?
• Am I an intentional architect of my own career, brand, and personal development?
• What would my boss, my peers, or my spouse advise me to examine and improve upon?

When conducting your self-assessment, it is important to be open-minded. As you chart your own leadership development path, try not to be defensive as that will distract you from focusing on the most important thing you’re striving to improve.

Of course, you shouldn’t look only at your deficits. Look at your strengths and develop those areas of expertise. Marcus Buckingham, the leading authority and best-selling author on employee productivity, leadership, and management, calls this the “strengths revolution.” Buckingham says dwelling on our strengths is the key to finding the most effective route to personal achievement. For leaders, maximizing their team members’ strengths can be the missing link to efficiency, competence, and high performance. Get focused on your strengths by soliciting your boss and trusted peers and ask for feedback regarding strengths you should further develop. Understanding your strengths will give you a roadmap for further development helping you target more specific workshops, coaching and lectures to build upon the strengths you already possess. Some workshop opportunities are available to the general public while other workshops and coaching may be offered by your organization.

During the process of self-assessment— as you craft your leadership development strategy—being aware of your innermost feelings will offer insight into areas of particular leverage toward improvement. Jack Canfield, best known for his Chicken Soup for the Soul® series and business best-seller, The Success Principles, emphasizes taking 100% responsibility for your life and creating a career and life that matches your dreams. While it is not uncommon to blame others for our own lack of success, Canfield encourages us to take full responsibility for all the realities of our lives. He offers strategies to increase confidence, tackle daily challenges, and build passion and purpose.

Finding purpose leads to wonderful results. According to Richard Leider, author of The Power of Purpose, “We all want to find our purpose—that thing that makes us feel like our life matters.” Once you’re aligned with your deeper purpose, a vast amount of energy becomes available to you as you identify meaningful goals and become more empowered to move toward them.

Now that you’ve spent some time dwelling on your own personal development, how do you use this to inspire and motivate the people who report to you? A good proven advantage is to harness emotional intelligence (EQ) to gain the commitment from your group by ensuring that each member feels they are acting in alignment with their purpose. Studies on EQ explain that understanding people and why they behave in certain ways is key to motivating them.

Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry, a thought leader on emotional intelligence, leadership, performance, and change, further explains, “The ability to intelligently manage our emotions, and the emotions of others (EQ), counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined.”

A leader with emotional intelligence asks their team deepening questions in a Socratic fashion and listens carefully to the subtleties of their responses. When a leader learns about people’s ideas, discovers where they are engaged, and supports their processes, they can harness individual passion and purpose to the organization’s benefit.

As a leader faced with the challenge of inspiring your team to excel, ask yourself these key questions:

• How can I become more effective as a leader?
• How can I communicate difficult decisions with grace and strength?
• How do I increase the confidence and emotional intelligence of my star players?
• How do I develop my people to become our next leaders?
• What can I do at my next team meeting to improve morale, trust and performance?

Asking these questions will raise your EQ and put you in the mindset of service to your team—the foundation of true leadership. Although many leaders with high EQ are geared to take care of others, they often forget to take care of themselves. By first honoring yourself, your purpose, your gifts, and your health, you may then take care of others. You can’t achieve limitless potential and be of service to others without being of healthy mind, body and spirit.

After taking a look at yourself, you can then look at the way you interact with other people. Focus on inspiring and serving your family, your team and your community. This is what enhances your emotional intelligence and allows you to climb to the higher rungs of leadership which is built upon serving others.

Remember, the way you think determines how you feel and what will become your reality. Visualize yourself succeeding and you will succeed. When you are in a healthy mental, physical, and emotional state, people will recognize that and be inspired by you. They will respect your wisdom and be honored to follow you and be motivated to perform at a higher level. The result will be a stronger team and company culture, as well as a robust bottom line that benefits all stakeholders.

Leadership development is a continual learning process. No matter your age, what you think you know, or what you have achieved, there will always be room for more growth, learning and achievement.