Invest in Yourself: Four Tips from Emerging Leaders
With many of us still feeling the emotional effects of 2020 and 2021, it’s hard to believe that 2022 is winding down. Where did the time go? Looking ahead to 2023 can simultaneously feel overwhelming and hopeful—a strange mix of forward-thinking excitement and hesitation. This mix of feelings can be especially vexing for those beginning to emerge as leaders within their organizations. Regardless of conflicting emotions about the future, now is the time to invest in oneself and prepare for the next stage of leadership.
Here at Leadership Montgomery, we offer a program called Emerging Leaders (EL)— an experiential learning program designed to broaden one’s leadership capabilities while building a professional network and knowledge of the county. Completing a program like this can be beneficial for rising leaders. But what are some additional ways innovators can invest in their leadership? We asked some of our EL alumni how they have dedicated their efforts post-program to advance their leadership and what advice they would give to other up-and-coming leaders. While having these conversations, we found four recurring themes, and in the spirit of looking ahead, we wanted to share these themes with those who are focused on the future and working to build their careers.
Tip #1– Have (or find) Self-Awareness: To quote one of our EL alums, “Leadership [starts as] an inside job.” Knowing when it is time to take the lead versus when it is time to follow can be crucial. Taking the initiative to expand your knowledge through a professional development avenue is also essential. Lifelong learning and growing your skill set go a long way to advancing your experience. According to some of our EL grads, challenging yourself is also vital. Some EL alums have utilized programs like The Flourishing Center’s Certificate in Positive Applied Psychology, Emotional Intelligence training, or their own company’s internal leadership development offerings to build their proficiencies.
Tip #2– Find an Invested Mentor: Having someone to respect and learn from can be critical in advancing leadership and career. Leaning on someone with extensive experience can help you navigate career challenges and opportunities, increasing the chances of attaining your goals. Joining an industry affinity group or even conducting LinkedIn research can help to jump-start a mentor match. No matter how you find a mentor, you, as the mentee, should drive the relationship.
Tip #3– Give Back to the Community: People don’t think of community service as a way to invest in themselves (except, perhaps, to pad their resume, which is NOT a valid reason to give back). But as one of our EL grads recently shared, giving back to his community gave him new perspectives and ideas that ultimately helped his career. In the same way that Design Thinking can help us solve problems, being open to new perspectives unrelated to our practice area can provide unexpected solutions within our jobs. Also, supporting organizations that advance our values only gives us a clearer picture of where we want our careers to take us.
Tip #4– Convene a Solid Peer Network: Connecting with other leaders in similar positions or on similar career paths can be beneficial. Having a peer sounding board has proven valuable to many EL alumni. Many have remained connected to their classmates through text, phone calls, social media, and regular gatherings. Together they celebrate wins, mourn losses, and challenge each other to be the best they can be through feedback and shared experiences.
These are only a few ways leaders can invest in themselves. What are some of the ways you have invested in yourself?