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Seven steps to take stock of your leadership progress


Overnight successes are generally years in the making. And most progress is made in isolation, far from the public eye. This is true for most leaders I work with. Often leaders feel they’re making little to no progress and when they do others don’t recognize their accomplishments. It’s difficult to see our progress day by day, but when we look back over a longer period, our progress can surprise us.

Almost a decade ago, I was meeting with a client who was a Director of Business Development. He had made significant advancements with his team, his leadership skills development and business results, but said he didn’t feel like he was having any successes or impact in his role. He felt like all he did was create reports and have meetings with clients, direct reports and senior leadership. He was concerned the day to day checklist didn’t get completed.

We explored his development goals set out almost a year earlier to understand where he was a year previously in relation to where he was personally and professionally that very day. The Director was astounded to see how much progress had happened in that year and puzzled on why he wasn’t able to see it day by day.  I used the metaphor of watching children grow. A child in your life that you see every day is hard to assess their growth even if you recognize small moments of growth. But, to look back on pictures of them from a year ago, you see how dramatically they have grown and changed. The most surreal was seeing my daughter, at six years old, hold a friend’s newborn baby to shock me into realizing how much she had grown!

As you reflect on the past year of your successes, here are some questions to help you explore how you’ve grown and changed and consider what might be next for you in the year ahead:

Achievement: What goals did you set for yourself, your team and the organization? How have they progressed?

Personal Org Chart: What new relationships have developed this year? Which existing relationships have deepened? What relationships have ended that were no longer serving you?

Accountability: What new boundaries have you created or held through difficult situations and conversations? 

Strategic Leadership: What initiatives have you influenced and moved forward? How?  

Passion: What has become clearer to you about what you love in your work and pursuits away from work?

Intellectual Learning: What have you learned formally and informally? What books have you read? What development activities have you undertaken? How have these helped you grow as a person?

Developing Others: How have you contributed to the growth of others directly and indirectly?

Most of your insights and learning will be private, learning no one else can see, and others have witnessed you grow overall. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for from the past year including areas others may not have seen? What do you want to challenge yourself to learn and achieve in the year ahead?

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