I had a wonderful time in San Antonio, Texas recently at a leadership development seminar and conference. This is my 4th year attending this event and it’s one of the professional development activities I participate in each year to grow my skills as a master certified coach and to network with other like-minded professionals. (Can you find me in this picture taken by Doug Ellis in this swarm of executive coaches?)
photo by Doug Ellis
Why should you go to Leadership Development Seminars? Many of the senior level individuals I coach tell me they are so busy that they don’t have time to go to industry events or conferences. I too feel busy and my to-do list is never ending, however as Steven Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” says, we must prioritize activities that are important but not urgent. We know theoretically how important it is to get out of our offices, away from our desks, and network with others but do we make enough time for our own leadership development? I strongly believe the benefits of immersing ourselves professionally away from the office, far outweighs the challenges of being away from work for a few days. Consider these five benefits for yourself and see if participating in a professional leadership development seminar might be worth your while.
1. Get an outsider’s perspective on some of your most pressing challenges.
Thinking about something by ourselves just brings us back to what we already know and does not give us a new perspective. None of us can observe ourselves in action. We actually need outside advice to stimulate our thinking. I’m currently writing a book and am at a crossroads deciding whether to go the traditional publishing route or self publish. I met a number of authors at the recent leadership development seminar I attended that gave me advice and helped me see the pros and cons that I was not aware of since I have never written a book.
2. Develop a network that you can re-connect with once you return to work.
An outside network can be invaluable. New people, new ideas, and access to a whole new network, theirs! A few years ago, I met a wonderful talented woman at a leadership development workshop and she and I now work together providing Strategic Decision Making and Mastering the Art of High Stakes Conversations leadership workshops to managers in corporations. I might not have met her if I had not gone to that workshop and talked about a current business challenge I was facing. (If you want info on either of these, email me mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Develop a connection that might help you with future employment.
You may or may not be looking for a new job at the moment, but you never know when you might be or when someone you know might be. The more connections we have the better we are positioned when the time is right to make a move. I’m not looking for a job myself, as I am happily self-employed, but I did just hire a marketing person who was a referral from someone I met at a leadership development conference. You never know who you might meet that might know someone looking for just your skill set.
4. Step back, sort through, think creatively, reflect, re-invent and experience work from a whole new perspective.
This is one of my favorite reasons for attending leadership development seminars and conferences. I can think bigger and more creatively once I get away from my desk where the day-to-day issues and challenges rule my days. I came back from CAM a few weeks ago with an idea to develop video descriptions of my Leadership University seminars on my website, which I can easily film at the TV studio where I produce my monthly cable show. It’s sort of a no-brainer but it had not occurred to me until someone else was talking about using videos in their business. I also met 4 colleagues that are interested in forming a traveling mastermind group and we decided we are going to start our group by taking a tour of Zappos and then brainstorm how we can take what we learned back into our businesses. New perspectives are priceless!
5. Learn something that changes your life (in a good way!).
As you can see I go to these leadership development seminars and workshops with big intentions for myself. Why not discover something that makes a huge difference for me personally or professionally, or both!? This year, I had a deep learning about who I am and how I want to be in the world whether I am at work or not. I discovered that I am someone who is inspired about thinking of myself as “Serenely Ambitious”. (A special shout out and thanks to Jim Selman, an expert in the field of organizational transformation and change, who coined this phrase, which I have now made my own). I love this phrase as it covers both sides of me that I am cultivating and celebrating. One side of me that is at peace, happy, and present and the other that is materially solid and driven towards success, but not at the expense of being spiritually bankrupt. I am learning to accept that all is perfect and unfolding in my world even if I am uncertain where it might lead, and at the same time I am committed to a larger possibility for myself and others and being constantly dissatisfied. Serene Ambition will be one of my leadership practices for this year as I strive to become masterful over time.
Float Your Boat. You never know what you might learn about yourself or your business until you get away from it. Think about attending a leadership development training workshop, program or conference this year as a professional or personal gift to yourself. Find something that looks like it has the possibility to really float your boat. Maybe it’s something you want to learn more about or something you want to immerse yourself in, or maybe its something completely new to take yourself out of your box.
A couple of years ago, I attended something out of the box for me, a course called Entrepreneurial Thought and Action run by Charlie Kiefer of Innovation Associates and Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College. It rocked. I learned a lot about running entrepreneurial ventures, which came in handy while I was starting The Magic Parties, (an organization of women supporting women to make their next bold moves) and I made some wonderful new friends and colleagues, including Len and Charlie.
If you are someone who is interested in exploring your next bold move professionally, might I shamelessly suggest a workshop I am conducting on November 2nd, “Your Next Bold Move Business Workshop.” It just might get your juices flowing and your actions aligned with what you really want professionally.
Be conscious and deliberate about what and how you are stretching yourself professionally and personally. We all need to re-assess where we are, what we want, and how the heck we’re going to get there. Where will your next bold move be?
Potential management candidates are tested thoroughly during the interview process. If you have the ambition to become an executive, you should lay out a few strong arguments for your interviewer. We’ll show you how you should confidently respond to the question, “Why do you want to be a leader?”
Are you ready for a leadership position?
Stop for a moment and think about it. A leadership position sounds promising, but it also corresponds with not only a lot of work, but also with great responsibility. Perhaps you already have some experience as a team leader? Then, you know that this position takes a lot more than just achieving success with your team. You not only have to organize, coordinate and delegate, but also motivate – you are even the number one contact person when problems arise. Before you are ready to answer the “Why do you want to be a leader” interview question, really think about it. Are you really ready for a leadership position? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you enjoy the organization of work processes? Do you have the talent to accomplish this?
- Do you accept responsibilities for yourself and your employees, as well as their accomplishments?
- Can you get along well with your colleagues and staff?
- Are you a good decision maker?
- Can you enforce company policies?
- Is it easy for you to accept differing opinions?
- Do you handle criticism well?
- Are you able to resolve conflicts as they arise?
- Can you calm your nerves, even in stressful situations?
- Can you effectively select and manage teams?
Did you answer yes to most of these questions? If so, you seem to be ready for a leadership position. However, some qualitiesare essential for a leader. Do you have the necessary requirements?
Do you have what it takes to be an executive?
Few people are born leaders, but luckily leadership can be learned. Regardless, there are still important basic requirements you must already bring with you. Why? Unlike your employees, whose competence lies in their expertise, you need specific social skills as an aspiring executive. From now on, you will focus on leadership tasks and other tasks that you will delegate to your co-workers. Here you will find the properties that executives need:
- Respect and trust of employees
- Self-confidence and the ability to assert themselves
- Communication skills
- Ability to delegate
- Empathy and knowledge of people
- Stress management
- Organizational skills
- Conflict resolution
- Commitment and motivation
- Willingness to make quick decisions and to set priorities
How to build your argument
There’s a lot of demand placed upon executives. They embody different roles – they are the bosses, organizers, motivators, and role models. If you are willing to take this challenge and bring at least the basic requirements, you already have everything you need to convincingly answer the question, “Why do you want to be a leader?” Now it is important to structure your arguments – and to present them logically.
Write down your own leadership skills and list some examples in which you demonstrated these skills successfully. Maybe if it wasn’t for your conflict resolution skills, the cooperation with your new advertising agency would have failed at the last minute. Ideally, if you are applying for a management position, you would have already gained some experience in staff management. You may have already coordinated a team or headed a department when your superior was out sick. Write down your successes and present the facts: “Over the last three months, I headed the “Marketing Innovation” project, comprised of nine members. I was not only responsible for the coordination of the project, but also the delegation of the responsibilities. Through regular meetings and feedback sessions with staff, I managed to resolve problems and conflicts at an early stage to optimize individual processes. This way, I could bring the project to completion, even three weeks earlier than scheduled.” Have no doubt when it comes to your leadership potential!
Once you have your leadership successes listed based on concrete examples, you should address your personal motivation. What motivates you in your desire to be a leader? Have you realized your avid interest in staff development during your supervisor’s last sick leave? Do you already have some good ideas that you would like to implement – perhaps a new approach to employee motivations? Make it clear that you are willing to take responsibilities and indicate your desire to positively influence the corporate culture. Show that you are one hundred percent behind your decision. If you explain your motivation authentically and provide compelling examples of how you have used your leadership skills successfully, you will have no trouble to confidently answer the question, “Why do you want to be a leader?”