Eight Activities For Self-Development Of Leadership Skills

Leadership development requires a combination of formal training (e.g. obtaining an Executive MBA), developmental activities within your organization (e.g. coaching, job rotation, and performance evaluation), and self-development activities. In his book entitled “Leadership In Organizations,” Gary Yukl identifies the following eight suggestions for how we can develop ourselves as leaders (p. 482):

  1. Develop a personal vision of career objectives
  2. Seek appropriate mentors
  3. Seek challenging assignments
  4. Improve self-monitoring
  5. Seek relevant feedback
  6. Learn from mistakes
  7. Learn to view events from multiple perspectives
  8. Be skeptical of easy answers

Leadership requires the ability to form influential relationships with others in order to consistently achieve changes that matter to the shared purpose of the organization (not just yourself). Lots of folks have the formal training and are exposed to great developmental activities, but never make the transition to becoming truly effective leaders. The discipline of self-development is what distinguishes truly great leaders from the rest.

Bob Sutton and Jeff Pfeffer argue that the gap between knowing and doing is more important than the gap between ignorance and knowledge. Without a system of self-development you can’t effectively translate what you know about leadership into habitual behaviors that help others accomplish purposeful change. Self-development is a personal responsibility that will help you master and leverage the knowledge and skills you acquire in a formal training program like the Executive MBA from UNR.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Bret L. Simmons, Ph.D.

Bret Simmons is associate professor of management in the College of Business where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students.

Simmons earned a master’s degree in international management from Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, and a Ph.D. in business administration/management from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. Simmons blogs about leadership, followership, and social business and teaches organizational behavior, management and organization science, international management and entrepreneurial psychology at the University.


Related Posts:

Ten Most Important Leadership Functions

The Leader’s Power To Reward

The Leader’s Power To Discipline

About Bret Simmons

Nevada Management Professor

Posted on December 2, 2011, in evidence-based management, organizational behavior and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thank you for this blog and book recommendation. We recently did a blog on Evidence Based Human Resources and the book, Transformative HR, We interviewed Ravin Jesuthasan, a thought-leader in evidence-based human resources, and Managing Director and a Global Practice Leader in Towers Watson’s Chicago office.


    Evidence-based thinking and the economic imperative focused the organization on the entire talent lifecycle. Diversity efforts were not limited to hiring, but included deployment, rewards, engagement and talent development. Metrics were developed around each to track multiple variables and with a goal of creating a sustainable pipeline throughout the talent lifecycle.

    Elizabeth Pearce & Kim Wise

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