The final paper is a personal Leadership Self-Assessment & Plan for Development. This paper should not exceed 10 pages and should include the following four parts:
1) a definition of your career (and perhaps life) aspirations;
2) a description of the leadership requirements for at least two of the specific
contexts you aspire to lead in;
3) a Self-Assessment of your Leadership AT THIS POINT IN YOUR LIFE;
4) a 10-year plan to develop yourself as a leader capable of realizing your
The objective of the paper is twofold. First, to deepen your insights into your own leadership development needs and, second, to apply all we have read, watched and discussed towards a thoughtful and implementable program which will help you realize your dreams. Recognizing that life unfolds in unexpected ways and dreams evolve, this plan is not meant to be: within 6 months I will get a job; within 2 years I will get promoted, etc. This is a development plan focused on acquiring / strengthening leadership skills.
You MUST draw upon theory from the textbook (traits, behaviors, dyadic relations, group dynamics, motivation, conflict, sources of power, influence tactics, etc.) and incorporate it into: B) your description of the leadership requirements, C) your self-assessment, and D) your development plan from above.
You may also draw on other scholarly leadership research (such as that referenced in the textbook, the articles that were assigned for class) or other leadership publications you have read (books, etc.).
You must include a bibliography utilizing APA format for your sources.
This paper will be assessed in terms of your effort and thoughtfulness, your comprehensiveness incorporating theory and covering/matching potential areas of improvement, and the specificity and usefulness of your development program.
Additional Information Regarding each Part of the Paper
The first and second parts of the paper should be relatively brief and serve to focus the third (your self-assessment) and fourth (your development plan) parts on specific contexts for leadership. Specifics/suggestions regarding each part follow.
Part One: Career (and Life?) Aspirations
In this part, describe your aspirations in a way that is comfortable and fits your thinking today. Cover how you would like to be perceived as a leader and the organizational level you hope to reach. Define what success at work looks like and articulate your ‘scorecard’. Further, articulate the values that underlie your definition of success. Weave into this some sense of what your non-job and life priorities are since those will have an important impact on your leadership. In 100 words or less, summarize what you would like to be ‘known’ for, or ‘praised’ for, at your eventual retirement.
Part Two: Leadership Requirements in Two Contexts
In this part, identify two different contexts you hope to lead in – this could be as part of a team within a larger organization, running your own business, your first management job, your eventual ‘top’ job. It could be part of a traditional company, a start-up, an innovative company, a small business, an artistic endeavor, etc. Be as specific about the two contexts you choose as is relevant to your aspirations. Don’t be more specific than necessary – you don’t want to limit your consideration of effective leadership and the subsequent development of your own plan for success.
Part Three: A Self-Assessment
This part should offer a realistic assessment of your leadership strengths and weaknesses in terms of: your personality traits, your typical behavioral approach to others, your sources of power, your preferred influence tactics, your motivational skills, etc. Focus most on attributes that might significantly influence your leadership success. Yes, you do need to consider what you need to develop (ie; what you aren’t good at that is required in the contexts you wish to pursue), but you should also not skimp on thinking deeply about what you are good at. When you really understand your strengths, you can make choices that build upon those skills.
It may be helpful to get input from two or three people who know you well personally and/or have worked with you. Try to speak with people with varying perspectives on your work and interaction style. Do not be shy about seeking this input. Others often remind us of our strengths in ways we are too shy to acknowledge or boast about. Others can often point out things that are frustrating about us as well – things we’ve come to accept as ‘just us’ rather than things we might address.
Part Four: A Leadership Development Plan
Building on the first three parts, this part of the paper should outline a program to develop the leadership skills required in the next ten years to set you on the path to achieving your ultimate aspirations and dreams. This plan should bridge the gap between your current skills, strengths and weaknesses and where you want, need, those skills, strengths and weaknesses to be in ten years so you ultimately become the leader you envision.
This plan should identify specific short and long-term, small & large, actions you wish to take over the next 10 years. These actions should be linked to the specific skills, strengths and weaknesses you addressed in your self-assessment – and be reasonable given your personality traits, your typical behavioral approach to others, your sources of power, your preferred influence tactics, your motivational skills, etc. These steps can (and should be) focused on IMPROVING what you are already good at / have, as well as CORRECTING things you might wish to change. It is possible to improve one’s resources, one’s skills, one’s strengths and one’s weaknesses. This plan is meant to help you see those things and the steps you can take to get there.
With regard to short-term and long-term large actions, you may detail large steps where you seek certain life experiences, job assignments (be specific with regard to the leadership aspects of those assignments), promotions, coaching / counseling, volunteer experiences, additional education, reading, workshops, etc. It is expected you will be able to envision things in the short-term in more detail than things in the long-term.
With regard to the short-term and long-term area of small steps, you should address specific skills and behaviors you would like to develop with regard to daily interactions with ‘followers.’ Again, take both a short-term and long-term perspective with regard to these skills and behaviors whereby the short-term is more detailed and personally prescriptive and the long-term is less detailed but ‘the kind of leader’ you’d like to be.
In both the short-term and long-term, large and small steps areas, it may help for you to look back and draw upon the ‘how you want to be remembered’ at your ‘retirement party’ section above.
Where possible, include Implementation Checkpoints that you can use to assess progress. These may be accomplishment based, or other ‘measurable’ targets. It is not always possible to develop these for each thing you wish to improve, but be thoughtful about how you might measure your progress for each step you address. Don’t assume you cannot measure your progress. Be creative in terms of how you challenge yourself and hold yourself accountable.