When I started CALII in the spring of 2021, I began the process of reflecting on my personal journey as a leader. I looked back in time, to identify where my leadership traits began to emerge and to reflect on how my path led to the decisions I make today. In retrospect, I think my true leadership path began when I became a mom. The skills I honed in motherhood, leading my tribe, started me on my path to leading teams at work. With my first opportunity at work to be a team leader, I had no leadership tools to lean into but I worked hard and did my research. This was a transition time where I took courses and participated in leadership programs at work to start collecting leadership tools. I will admit, looking back, I worked hard but not smart.
As we moved through the last six months in CAL II, there have been many A-HA moments, but there are two that are especially worth noting. The first one is that I needed to make a conscious effort to put those leadership skills into action. I can study and collect leadership tools and principles all day long, but the true value comes with understanding when and how to wield them. In addition, I need to practice, practice, and then more practice until my leadership skills become second nature. And finally, having one, or more, accountability partners is key to helping me be accountable for using those tools, also, to bounce ideas off of and to provide valuable coaching sessions to pull ideas out of me when I am struggling to make a decision.
My second A-HA moment was learning about my saboteurs. My chief saboteur, I call her Susie, the hyper-achiever. It was startling to realize that a trait that I have always taken pride in, truly is the thing that has been holding me back from moving to the next evolution of my leadership journey. I have always been focused on accomplishing as many tasks as I can to check off my list, but I was not focusing as much on the bigger picture. I was not enabling my team members nor was I holding them accountable. My 360 review indicated that I am not utilizing my strategic skills as much as I should be. I see this clearly now and I am keeping this in the forefront of my mind as I plan out my week. I think about what tasks I should be working on and what I should be delegating to my Product Owners and team members.
My second saboteur was not a big surprise to me. This saboteur was much less prevalent than Susie, but still there. I have always known that I get restless and always seem to gravitate to new challenges. I am told often in my personal life that I exhibit this behavior. This is something I have been actively working on for the last couple of years. I am trying to focus on bettering myself in the place I am at so that I am open to new challenges when they appear before me. This helps me be better prepared for those new challenges. Seeing my 360 scores let me know that I need to continue to focus in this area but that I truly have made progress with my awareness of this saboteur in my life.
Within the last few months, I have made some changes in my leadership style. I actively force myself to look for opportunities to use my leadership tools. I trust my teams to manage their daily activities so I can focus on strategic improvements as well as not doing the work of others to make sure the job gets done. Lastly, I am taking a more thoughtful approach to my week and holding myself accountable to my goals.
As I look to the future and think about where I hope to be in the next three years of my career, I will be focused on the skills needed at the next level of leadership and work to demonstrate an understanding and capacity to exhibit those skills. I will be proactive in looking for opportunities within my organization to progress my career while enjoying the challenges and growth opportunities right where I am. I am thankful for this opportunity for self-reflection this year and look forward to the journey ahead.