What has stood out most in my leadership development over the last year are the importance of being aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and the importance of taking action to achieve your goals even if you don’t feel ready.
My coursework at the Humphrey School has helped me take a close, critical look at my own skills as a leader. The strength of this process for me is that I examined my skills not in isolation, but as a process of learning about leaders and leadership more deeply. This way I was able to compare my leadership style and my skillset against stories of actual leaders and challenges they faced, while grounding the learning in a theoretical framework.
I was surprised at how helpful this process was. Especially helpful was thinking back to some prior leadership challenges I faced with fewer skills and self-awareness. It was incredibly useful to go over those episodes with a critical look at what went wrong and what I would do differently now. This reflective process helped improve my confidence in ways I hadn’t expected, which told me I was more affected by these experiences than I realized.
I’ve also come to appreciate the need to act if you want to make an impact. My natural tendency is to want to learn more, prepare more, and plan more. While the urge to constantly learn and improve is necessary, it can also be an excuse to put off taking concrete steps toward action. Certainly this has been true for me. Starting something new can be daunting and scary. But some of my most important lessons have been learned under real-world pressures while engaged in real work. And to begin one often doesn’t need a fully fledged roadmap and itinerary, but just a general direction of where to go and an idea of the next couple of steps - the path forward often reveals itself along the way.
I am glad I’ve had this opportunity to reflect on my leadership and improve my ability to lead and effect change, and I’m grateful to the Bush Foundation for making it possible.