Spring Forward for Growth

With each new spring, we see renewal and growth all around us.  Why not use this time to also focus on your own renewal and growth? 

Perhaps you feel you are in a rut and would like to make some changes.  How do you start?  Where do you start?  First, identify what areas of your life are creating the most discord.  Is it family life or professional life?  Ask yourself what is driving the discontent.  For example, you may feel you have plateaued in your professional life and you would like to make a move up to the next step.  There are several steps you can take to move forward in that journey.

  • Check with your supervisor and let them know you are interested in growth opportunities.  They may have some stretch assignments that will give you experience and exposure to new people and skills.
  • Check with your HR department and see if they have access to self-assessment tools that will help you identify skill and interest areas for improvement and pursuit.
  • Check with a trusted advisor or mentor to discuss where you are and where you would like to see yourself in five years. 

After checking with the above parties, create your plan for growth.  (See blogpost Planning Your Professional Growth, May 17, 2017.)  This process can work for both your professional and personal life.  It is never too late to reach for your goals.

  • MAH

Communication, Communication, Communication

Most of us are familiar with the adage that the most important elements of property are location, location, location (Safire, 2009).   What are the most important elements for leadership that contribute to organizational success?  I believe the three most important leadership activities are communication, communication, communication.  You may have years of professional experience, with a variety of interesting projects on your resumé.  What can help you stand out from your competitors?  Highlight your effective communication skills to elevate you from the competition.

My research (Hartman, 2016) has shown that relationship management is one of the key skills needed for effective leadership.  Successful relationships require good communication.  The ability to manage relationships with all stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners, is critical to your success as a leader.  The leader must be able to ensure all stakeholders understand the strategic goals and desired outcomes for the organizational activities.  The more levels that a message must go through, the more important it is that the message is clear and consistent so that all the recipients can align their efforts in the same direction.  A good leader ensures each part of the organization understands how their efforts contribute to the overall success.

Leaders must also communicate effectively with customers, to ensure the organization understands what the customer wants, and that the customer understands what the organization can deliver.  Problems and challenges that come up during the process must be communicated quickly so that solutions can be developed and applied.  How a leader communicates challenges determines whether the problems can be effectively resolved.  Be prepared to discuss not only the problem, but also some possible solutions.  Approaching difficult conversations this way helps participants to be more receptive to problem solving and facilitates more effective decision making.  Leaders also keep their own superiors apprised of progress and challenges so that their superiors are not caught off guard.

We are all more inclined to support a project or activity if we are part of the decision making process and if we understand how our efforts contribute to the overall success.  Effective communication enables greater organizational success.


Hartman, M. (2016). Improving leadership readiness for the senior executive service:
A sequential mixed methods analysis of SES dyads
(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). California Intercontinental University, Irvine, CA.

Safire, W. (2009, June 26). Location, location, location. Retrieved from http://https://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/magazine/28FOB-onlanguage-t.html

Planning Your Professional Growth

Strategic steps to plan for professional growth.

Thinking about where you may be professionally in five years can be both a fun yet scary experience.  It is fun to think of how much can be learned in five years and the opportunities that may be available.  It is also scary to think you may not be ready for the opportunities when they do come.  So what is a practical approach to help ensure you have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and experience when opportunity knocks on our door?  Planning for professional growth should be purposeful and strategic.  Presented below is a four-step process that, when used consistently, will help you get to your goals.

  • First: Start with an assessment of where you are now; and determine where you want to be in 5 years.  This helps you set your “as-is” and “to-be” states.
  • Second: Perform a gap analysis–which is comparing the skills you currently have against the skills needed for your desired job. This allows you to determine the gap in your skills or experience you may be missing.
  • Third: Develop a plan of action to get you from your current position to your desired position. Identify short, medium, and long term goals with metrics for how you will measure your success.
    • Short term goals are usually <1 year
    • Medium term 2-4 years
    • Long term >5 years
  • Fourth: Start performing the identified activities and chart your progress against your milestones
    • This helps identify roadblocks or impediments as they occur
    • You can then figure out what is needed to overcome the hurdles
  • On-going:  Make adjustments to your plan as needed.

Hold yourself accountable!!! Get a coaching buddy if that helps where you check in with each other on a prearranged schedule to discuss your progress.