The Personalized Approach to Leadership Development: 5 Things to Know

The Personalized Approach to Leadership Development: 5 Things to Know

Category : Leadership


There are literally hundreds of words that have been used to describe what it takes to be a leader. One day it’s one word, the next it’s a different word. You could literally build a Word-a-Day calendar and not repeat any words. The truth of the matter is that all that is really needed to be a good leader is to be them self.

That’s why I developed the Professional Leadership Process™ (PLP) for the book, “Prescribing Leadership in Healthcare“. The PLP is a personalized, continuously-improving leadership process based on an individual’s innate qualities and abilities. It is based on insights from years of leadership research, graduate-level leadership course instruction, six sigma process improvement training and my personal leadership journey.

Here are 5 things to know about personalized leadership development:

  1. Leadership is process-based, not skills-based. A person can be taught a skill, although not everyone can learn it well. That’s like saying a person can be taught to play basketball like Michael Jordan or football like Tom Brady. It won’t happen. Assuming a one-sized (skill) fits all approach to leadership development is contrary to reality. Not everyone can implement the skill being taught or be good at it once they’ve learned it. This leads to point #2.
  2. Leadership development must be individualized. It must first start with a clear assessment of the individual’s innate qualities, personality and abilities. Some people are born with certain innate qualities that give them a higher propensity for leadership, although they can still improve with through additional training. The reality is that not everyone is meant to be a good leader. Once a person knows what they have to work with, then they can build a personal leadership philosophy based on their innate qualities and compensate for any they may not have.
  3. A process-based approach is continuously-improving. A continuously-improving process can be adaptable to almost any situation or industry the leader may encounter. Just like every person is different. Every leadership encounter is different. The leader must understand which tools to use and when to use them to be most effective based on their personal leadership style and philosophy. This leads to point #4.
  4. Continuous-improvement requires regular reflection and coaching feedback.Without the proper evaluation of prior leadership encounters to determine what went right and what went wrong, the leader will not learn what they need to do in future encounters to be successful. Feedback from a trusted 3rd party coach/mentor is critical to receiving the perspective needed for additional leadership improvement.
  5. Leadership must be practiced every day. To be successful, people must view the leadership process not as an afterthought, but as something that must be practiced and performed every day. Leadership, thus becomes your profession and the higher a person rises in an organization, the more attention that must be focused on leadership.

Look at how other professions approach their work, such as athletes, physicians, chefs or even professors. These professions are constantly working to improve and enhance their knowledge to be more successful. For instance, professional athletes, who are the top 1% of the top 1% practice every day to get better. They watch film and reflect on what they did and what they could have done better. Their coach provides them individual feedback to help them to see things that they may not have seen in their performance.

If other professions can approach their development on a personalized basis, shouldn’t leaders approach leadership in the same way?

{Read more about the personalized approach to leadership development, in his book “Prescribing Leadership in Healthcare (where you can also download a FREE sample). The concepts are adaptable across industries. You can also hear him present “The Personalized Leadership Journey” at the Becker’s Hospital Review 9th Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 14, 2018.}

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