by Lauren Davey

Organizations often look outside for top talent as a way to “raise the bar” or avert a talent crisis.  There is much being written today about talent shortages among organizations – it is real and prevalent.  Yet, what if we could help our organizations fight the war for talent by taking a more active role in our development?   Could that role reduce the talent shortage by creating opportunity for others and our selves already on the payroll?  After all, the workplace is filled with skilled employees who have accrued countless years of valuable experience.  First, however, a commitment to change is required to meet the new and growing demands of organizations for their leaders today.

Over the years we change our hairstyle, our clothes, the cars we drive, our home furnishings.  We spend time researching and evaluating items such as the latest Smartphone to determine whether we should upgrade our current hardware for the latest version– yet when it comes to an upgrade of our leadership capability, we tend not to invest much thought and even fewer resources. Though leadership may not evolve as quickly as Smartphone technology, the principle remains the same.  Upgrades eventually make previous versions of the same thing obsolete. 

Employees need to take a proactive approach to invest in themselves rather than wait for companies to do it for them.  To be blunt, employees waiting to get ‘development’ are validating organizations’ assumptions of the need to look elsewhere to fill that next big job.  Those who take control of their talent and leadership development make it easier for organizations to identify them as top talent.  Not only does this enhance personal leadership, the act of making that investment puts employees back on the competitive track.  Here are a few other things to think about to further your own talent status:

  1. Constantly assess your leadership style – Use external tools and assessments to understand your behaviours and how they impact the people with whom you work.  No matter how many assessments you have completed in the past, regularly listening and learning from new sources of feedback helps improve awareness and sharpen our skills. If your organization doesn’t have the tools go find them yourself.  Be resourceful and bold – you are worth it.
  2. Be a complacency buster – Getting too comfortable in roles and routines can undermine effectiveness.  Challenge your own thought processes including the work habits, meetings and schedules you keep.  Are they as effective as they were when you established them?  If not, then liberate that time so you can pay attention to what you may be missing.
  3. Manage your brand – Use the power of social media beyond simply opening an account to convey an impression of your personal leadership style inside and outside your organization.  A static and poorly prepared personal profile communicates a message and it’s unlikely the one you want. Your leadership is your brand and it must be managed actively.
  4. Be true to yourself – Always remember at the core of your leadership should be authenticity.  Evolving your leadership style is about changing behaviour.  It is not about changing you.

Analyze what has made you successful, what has provided you satisfaction and what fuels your passion.

Expectations of leaders will continue to grow and evolve.  If we want to be recognized as top talent at any level in the organization, we need to own our leadership development.  If you haven’t paid it much attention recently, the time is now.

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