There are two questions I ask at the beginning of leadership sessions and with coaching clients: How do you continue to develop yourself? Do you plan for it?

The obvious thing is they are already in a development class or coaching session, so of course they think about their development. But what about once they leave the room?

This is where it gets tricky. We all get wrapped up in our daily lives. How do we keep our growth top-of-mind?

Here are six techniques that consistently work for me and my clients:

1. Set development goals.

Goals tend to be development-oriented by their very nature. But it is a worthwhile exercise to review your goals to determine if there is at least one that will push you toward developing a new skill or mastering a current one.

2. Keep an ongoing list of development ideas.

I have a list that I add to and delete from. It includes ideas for things I would like to try, classes I would like to take, etc.

3. Read.

Reading is key to my development. I have a rather large list of books I’d like to read and am generally reading at least one book that is either leadership- or coaching-focused. I want to get better at what I do and reading is a way for me to build new connections in my brain.

4. Take a deep dive into a subject matter.

Along the lines of reading: What if you create your own study? I have done this several times over the years. Pick a subject you’d like to know more about or gain some expertise in, and spend a month studying it. This means each day, whether it is 30 minutes or several hours, you will study this one thing.

5. Get an accountability partner.

An accountability partner can be a family member, spouse/partner, friend, colleague, or networking partner. It can be as simple as committing to a weekly follow-up text or getting together for coffee and conversation. Tell them you want to be held accountable and let them know you are open to tough feedback if need be.

6. Work with a coach.

I have a coach I have worked with for quite some time now. We schedule 60 minutes per week together. A structure that works for us is a 10-minute update on commitments and setting a goal for the time. We hang up and I work on said development goal, then she calls back and we wrap up for 5 minutes. I end up getting 45 minutes of time each week that I may not have found otherwise. In fact, making a commitment to my own development with her helped me recently attain my next level of coaching certification.

So how do you get started? First, take some time to plan. It’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t create a roadmap to get there.

Once you have that list, pick your priorities. And start small. Is it 15 minutes each morning or a little time over lunch? What is achievable for you? No one is going to knock on your door and say, “I have cleared your schedule, go grow.” You will have to find pockets where you can.


Deanell Sandoval, Vice President of Leadership Development

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