The idea of practicing leadership can be quite elusive. Many of us go about our days not really thinking about how we interact with others in ways that engage them and have a positive impact. Isn't it just something that you should do without thought? While that may be the goal, but first to get to a place of unconscious competence we need to keep the practice in our conscious thought and experiment through practice. We also need to focus on what we want to practice. Key to practice is to gain a level of proficiency over multiple repetitions of that skill, so you don't want to be spreading your focused practice so thin that you overwhelm yourself or slow down your progress. This post aims to answer the question: What can I practice that are important to my leadership development?
Practicing Project Leadership
First of all, you need to pick what you want to focus on. In my post on Prioritizing Project Leadership I introduce you to the power skills that PMI views as some of the most important to project professionals. This is a great place to start in choosing what to focus on. Another way to narrow down your focus is by choosing skills that relate to one of the 4 pillars of responsive leadership:
Participation: Enhance inclusion and belonging on your team by focusing on relationship and trust-building, and collective visioning and team culture building
Integration: Increase your ability to learn and adapt by building skills in agility, navigating difficult conversations, strategic thinking, mentoring, and providing feedback
Ideation: Spark creative energy and positively disrupt the status quo through skills in brainstorming, design thinking, negotiating, problem solving, and coaching
Appreciation: Appreciate what is working and seek out opportunities by using a strengths-based leadership approach, and improving recognition
Pick 2-3 skills you want to develop and for each skill choose an action to practice in the next week. For ideas, check out the attached quick guide, or choose another action that you have discovered from your own research on the skill.
Practicing is all about experimenting.
What have you tried or not tried? What worked and what would you do differently next time? When practicing leadership skills, keeping a journal can be a powerful tool to help you reflect and guide your experimentation.
So, what's next?
If you are looking to dig deeper into your project leadership skills practice, PMI's power skills resource hub is one tool you may find useful to help you gain more knowledge. Another option is to check out my workshops where together we work on the 4 responsive leadership pillars all project professionals need to practice to succeed in today's turbulent work environment.
Starting a practice is just the tip of the iceberg. In my next blog post, I'll share with you some tips for keeping your practice going. Stay tuned!