My Professional Development Plan
In order to be successful, you must have a plan; Benjamin Franklin put it best by saying “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” (Bouffard, 2013). While it may seem somewhat rudimentary to go through the exercise of building a detailed Professional Development Plan (PDP), this is the foundation by which a leader will grow and develop; the ability to have a voice and share my ideas are key elements in establishing myself as a leader (Bartley, 2013). To effectively accomplish that, I must have a plan. In the pages to follow, I will outline elements pertaining to my PDP, working through my identified strengths and weaknesses as well as applying a timeline with benchmarks to measure success.
As I reflect back on the first assignment in DDBA 8006 where I was asked to define my “why”, I am happy to report that it has not changed. The “why” is defined by answering the question of why I have decided to peruse my Decorate in Business Administration (DBA). For me, this question has a two-fold response: I desire to have stronger leadership skills and wish to develop better prioritization capabilities.
These two goals will help me further my career within my current organization. In my current role, I spend a great deal of time attempting to drive change through my leadership style; enhancing that style and knowledge base will allow me and my team to grow. Additionally, my desire to be able to prioritize better the work I have as well as create a more productive environment. In his book, Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg (2016) references productivity in this manner: “Productivity isn’t about working more or sweating harder. It’s not simply a product of spending longer hours at your desk or making bigger sacrifices. Rather, productivity is about making certain choices in certain ways”. That’s my ultimate goal: I want the knowledge that enables me to take in all the data points and make an informed decision regarding how and where to focus my efforts.
An assessment that I participated in from PDI Ninth House (2011) led me to create a PDP many years ago. The primary focus of that PDP over the past few years has been my leadership style; the focus that defined my PDP at that time is no different than what it is today. The elements of focus within my leadership style will remain concentrated to the following areas:
- Coaching and providing feedback to the team.
- Inspiring my team and those around me.
- Creating accountability for each team member.
- Strong focus on people and relationships.
Reflecting on the motivation, I consider my thirst for knowledge to be my primary motivator. I truly have a hunger for knowledge; it’s not just the idea of gaining knowledge but rather taking that knowledge and applying it to a problem or task that I may have. In my current role, I am constantly put in a position where I am asked to solve a problem without having any clear guidance or direction on how to accomplish or solve the problem. Some may find this daunting, but I love it. It challenges me to think outside of my normal field of ideas; to find and leverage resources that I never thought I would utilize. It is an exhilarating task. This exhilaration is a thrill for me. This is my motivation; it drives me each and every day to continue along the path that I’ve defined in my PDP.
Personal Learning Network
To help me achieve these goals, I will need help and support. This help and support will come primarily from my Personal Learning Network (PLN). PLN are defined as collaborative learning within a virtual learning environment (Marin et al., 2014). These networks allow for an exchange of ideas and thoughts as well as create a supporting atmosphere that creates encouragement for those involved. The elements of my PLN are as follows:
- Social networks & tools that allow for idea exchange.
- Strong professional profile.
- A broad group of members within my network.
- Developed content that creates conversation and thought.
In addition to these four elements within my PLN, I will rely heavily on technology to build and maintain this network; this includes the social platforms themselves but also the various devices that I will use to access these platforms at my leisure. These four elements of my PLN, along with technology, will provide the necessary help and support to accomplish the goals outlined in my PDP. This network is not only necessary, but it is vital to my success.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Understanding the areas where you are strong and where you are deficient is an important part of building a PDP. It’s important that you know what your strengths are, enabling you to leverage those elements. For example, if you have the strength of communication, you should be utilizing that asset by being the communicator for your team; spending time with your peers and helping them become better communicators.
Likewise, knowing your weaknesses can help you steer clear of situations that could cause issues. For example, if you are a poor public speaker, it’s best if you do not volunteer to be the spokesperson for your group. Rather, you should be focused on enhancing this deficiency by learning how to be a better speaker; read a book, take a class, or partner with someone on your team who excels at speaking.
It can be difficult to look at yourself and attempt to identify weakness, but doing so can tremendously help you move forward in your PDP. Below is a chart that depicts my personal strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT):
In this simple SWOT analysis, you can see where I posses strong performance and where I struggle. Again, identifying your strengths is just as important as finding your weaknesses; you must capitalize on the strengths you have by using them and continuing to mature and grow them. In turn, weaknesses will show you where to focus your energy or where you need to surround yourself with peers that can off-set your weak areas.
In addition to the SWOT analysis, another assessment indicated that I have a tenancy to struggle in challenging situations. In this assessment conducted by PDI Ninth House (2011), they measure your competencies with the categories of experience, interest, and foundation. The results of my assessment indicated that I have strengths in the categories of foundations and interest. Regarding the experience category, the results indicated that I have difficulty in handing tough challenges.
The results came as no surprise: I hate conflict. I have never been one to enjoy an argument or to resist just for the fun of it. What this assessment revealed was my inability to stand up for what I had a passion for. Too often, I would back off of a topic in a meeting that I cared deeply about because I didn’t want to deal with the conflict.
Casse (2014) establishes a new benchmark for leadership by defining four drivers: energy, focus, speed, and challenge. He argues that these are the fundamental attributes of leadership. Within Casse’s research, he created an exercise that allows leaders to assess their leadership skill with these four drivers in mind. Below are the results of that assess for my personal leadership capabilities.
In this assessment, the higher the number, the stronger you are at the given driver; the lower the value, the weaker you are at the driver. From the chart above, you can see my strengths lie within energy and focus, while my weaknesses are within the speed and challenges drivers.
My strengths, as identified by the assessment, align with most other leadership assessments I’ve done over the years. Focus is where I succeed; I put my energy into a specific project, and I drive it until it is fully accomplished. This is how I thrive in a project-based environment.
My weaknesses, on the other hand, is in speed and in challenges. Speed I agree with: I am slow to make decisions; I am methodical about how I approach a problem and what actions I take because of it. To combat this, I need to be able to make decisions more quickly; not that I would just make quick decisions but rather I would come to a conclusion more quickly. The other weakness identified is challenges. As I mentioned in the above section, this weakness was also identified on another assessment that I had taken several years before. While I continue to struggle with my approach to challenging situations, this is an area that I have spent many hours working on and attempting to overcome. With my focus on this weakness, I have made significant strides towards my ability to stand up for ideas that I believe in; I still have progress to make, but I am in a much better position than I was a few years ago.
Applying an explicit timeline to my goals is difficult. These are skills that I will never master; I will continue to make progress on these items for the reminder of my professional career. However, I can set milestones for these to ensure that I am progressing along a path as it relates to these goals. With that in mind, the chart below attempts to wrap an allusion of time around my anticipated progression within my defined goals.
The goals of my PDP are clear: enhanced leadership and prioritization skills. These goals are not easy; relying on my PLN for encouragement and support will help me in this personal journey. By leveraging my strengths and building upon my weakness, I will continue to progress and move forward with my career objectives.
Bartley, B. (2013). Who am I? A Black leader’s personal reflection of that journey. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27(2), 163-176. doi: 10.1080/02650533.2013.798153
Buckingham, M. (2011). Stand Out: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of Strength Resolution. Nashville, TN: One Thing Productions, Inc.
Bouffard, W. (2013, November, 7). If you fail to plan, you plan to fail [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://puttincologneontherickshaw.com/authors-blog/if-you-fail-to-plan-you-plan-to-fail/
Casse, P. (2014). The new drivers of leadership. Training Journal, 27-30. Retrieved from http://www.trainingjournal.com/
Duhigg, Charles. (2016). Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. New York, NY: Random House.
Marin, V., Negre, F., & Perez, A. (2014). Construction of the foundations of the PLE and PLN for collaborative learning. Comunicar, 21(42), 35-42. doi: 10.3916/c42-2014-03
PDI Ninth House (2011). TalentView of leadership transitions. Dallas, TX: Personnel Decisions International Corp.