USE OUR ASP HACK
Here on the blog, we often talk about how important it is for business leaders to provide professional development opportunities for their Millennial staff. And not just Millennial staff, but ALL their staff! Guess what? Research proves that learning, well, is the new learning! Millennials are demanding it at work and in the marketplace. They want experiences that teach them and what’s more, only 13 percent of companies report they are “excellent” at building global leaders. That’s a disappointing statistic. So the question becomes, how can we help millennials help themselves?
Millennials don’t need to wait for their companies to establish mentorship programs or leadership training. Millennials can be their own best coach and can start preparing themselves for current or future leadership roles right now. Today! Yes, today.
As we know to be true, millennials are very motivated to learn and to develop leadership skills when given a chance. Like all of us, they just need to know where to start!
Here is a simple framework to help set you on your way to becoming your own best leadership coach. Since everyone loves a good acronym, we call this framework ASP.
Here’s how you do it.
(A) Assess Yourself as a Leader
To start, you need to become aware and assess who you are as a leader today. This requires that you view yourself with an objective, third-person perspective similar to the way a boss might evaluate you.
To achieve that, we turn to LEADERSHIP JOURNALING.
Writing things down is a uniquely powerful tool and can give us insights into ourselves that we never knew before. Becoming your own best coach requires you to act and to take the initiative. This exercise is a clear and structured way to identify your strengths and apply focusing on strategies as a leader to own your personal and professional life.
Here’s what you do: sit down with a notepad or blank document on your computer and for 30-minutes, write freely about how you see yourself as a leader. Your writing can be messy and jumbled; the goal here is simply to discover what you feel your strengths and weaknesses are as a leader. As a matter of fact, throw out as much as you can and see what you get.
If you need some help getting started, here are a few simple questions you can begin answering about yourself. These questions work whether you are already in a leadership role or you are preparing yourself for a future leadership role. They are:
- What are your greatest strengths?
- How do your strengths help you lead?
- What holds you back from being a leader?
- When are you at your very best as a leader?
- What is one big challenge you have overcome using your strengths and how were you being a leader in that instance?
- When was a time that you fell short as a leader?
- What did you learn?
- How would you do things differently using your strengths?
After 30-minutes, if you answer honestly about yourself as a leader, then you’ll begin to see a pattern of your leadership style splattered across the page. With your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL done it is time to give it a read through and truly understand how to apply your strengths together with what is holding you back from living your strengths to create real results and start crushing it.
(S) Strengths Focus
Start by reading through your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL a few times and pay close attention to your answers (especially for questions 5 – 8). Those are where your areas for improvement are likely lurking.
Based on your responses, you should notice a few things about yourself as a leader that you could improve. If not, work harder, get a buddy to look at it and really push what you can do to be better, think of yourself as the best coach you ever had and act like that. As you read, make a bullet list below your LEADERSHIP JOURNAL of at least five things about yourself as a leader you would like to move to the next level.
Once you have your list complete, it’s time to start focusing on objectives to hack.
Five things is too many to focus on improving at once. Instead, pick the top two characteristics or areas of improvement that you think will have the greatest impact on your daily work life. As an example, let’s say you chose to focus on improving your strength of activation or execution by working on patience and organization as your tools to master your work. You might actually learn to breathe, or digest before reacting so as be seen as a leader of teams instead of an individual contributor.
Now, below your bullet list of strengths you want to improve, list three to four leaders who you would consider to be exceptional in those areas (try to make sure at least one of those four is in your industry or field).
With your list of leaders ready, it is time to do some research. Your job is to answer one focus question: how do these people excel in the areas that you are looking to improve through hacking tips?
Your research into this question should include listening to their podcast, reading their interviews, reading their biographies, or even trying to speak with them directly. Make sure your effort to answer the focus question is purposeful: that means writing down notes, marking pages, and highlighting interviews.
By the end of your research, you should have compiled notes of wisdom about how successful people have strengthened their skills to make it a superpower. For example, you may now know that Tim Ferris is a big fan of Stoicism to stay calm or that Sheryl Sandberg uses a notebook to keep her thoughts organized.
With your awareness, focus on improving strengths and getting the tools you need. In time, you will start to acquire wisdom in hand. Be ready to put your new found wisdom into action.
(P) Practice What You Have Learned
Some of the tips you gathered in your research will be sill, not fit your personality, or simply won’t apply. That is okay! You want to narrow down all of your notes to a few tools/resources/approaches that you think can provide real solutions for you. Or actually, convert them to a language that allows you to adopt them and practice all the time.
Now below your research notes, synthesize your notes into a bullet list. This time pick out the two or three nuggets of wisdom you think will be most effective for helping you apply and develop your strengths through trial and error: PRACTICE.
Once you have your two to three point PRACTICE bullet list, it is time for the most important step: to make a concerted effort to apply the strategies to improve as a leader.
Some of this wisdom may work and you will be excited to add it to your repertoire. That is great! But some of it won’t work, and that is okay too. You can always go back and identify other nuggets of wisdom from your notes, research other leaders with the same process, and continue to try new things. That is how you (PRACTICE) learn and improve!
It may seem like a lot of work, but make sure you have fun with it. If you adopt this ASP process or MINDSET with each new learning experience, you will crush it.