Take Action to Develop as a Leader – Eric’s Story

Taking actionI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In this post we will take the next step in the innovative leadership development process: taking action. In this post we will discuss how to start in an effective way and show you how to mitigate any potential barriers.

Start Effectively

First of all, you must believe that you can accomplish your short-term milestones. If you’ve been closely following the previous posts and participating in the exercises, and you’re really serious about chasing your life goals, then you are more than capable of accomplishing these short-term milestones. You may seem a little intimidated and overwhelmed, but that’s what you want. If you’re not exiting your comfort zone then you’re not growing.

Secondly, this process will not only take you out of your comfort zone, but will require some consistent commitment. If you must, do not start out too extreme. Take it slow in the beginning, familiarize yourself with the routine and gradually push yourself to greater limits.

Overcoming Barriers

Most importantly, you’ll need to allow yourself some flexibility in your plan because you will likely face obstacles that may require you to temporarily modify your routine. Below is a worksheet to help you overcome your barriers. Feel free to refer to my answers to see how to answer each space. The goal I’m referring to is how I want to increase my productivity with work.

Barrier Action Planning Worksheet
Category Barrier Impact of Barrier How to Remove or Work Around Support I Need to Remove or Work Around This Barrier
In my thinking I over-analyze small details, which takes me on tangents about unrelated things. It distracts me, taking my focus away from the actual task, I end up thinking about something completely irrelevant Maintain perspective on the overall goal of certain tasks to better understand the functions behind the smaller details, requiring less thought later on. Personal support to hold me accountable each day.
In my behavior I try to multi-task way too much. This impedes my productivity. Focus on one task at a time, do it right the first time, practice “essentialism”. Personal support, casually reminding each other about essentialism.
In our beliefs We depend on third parties to do their part of a task too often. This slows us down because we wait for them to finish. Rely less on external sources’ work and consider doing their part by ourselves. Professional partnership support to find out what we can do without a third party.
In how we do things We multi-task as a group. It impedes productivity. reminding each other about focusing on the tasks at hand fully. Remember that I also need to focus and ask others to do the same.

Real World Application: Create a Barrier Log

Review your responses for the Barrier Action Planning Worksheet and create a spreadsheet document. Label the first column “Barrier”. Move one column to the right, and label the next five columns, from left to right, “Attempt #1”, “Attempt #2”, and so on. In the column labeled “Attempt #1”, write how you plan to overcome the corresponding barrier, perhaps using the response you put for the Barrier Action Planning Worksheet. If you fail on the first attempt, write a new or refined way to overcome that barrier, plus what you did wrong in the previous attempt, in the Attempt #2 section, and continue this process until you eventually overcome the barrier. On the attempt where you finally succeed, highlight that box in green. As new barriers rise, add them to the log; however, after you complete a barrier, it is critical that you keep it on the log and do not delete it.

This barrier log will be very useful because you will be able to track what did and did not work in order to overcome a barrier. You will likely come across barriers that are similar to previous ones, so knowing what worked (and what didn’t work) in advance, making the barrier easy to overcome. As time goes on, and you begin to see a long list of old barriers with green boxes, signifying success, your confidence in overcoming barriers will increase. It may be grueling to keep adding more attempts because you keep failing, but understand the that only true failure is failure to try.

Feel free to include barriers outside of the leadership development process, such as academic, social and even health barriers. Save this document in a cloud storage service for both safety and convenience. Update it on a regular basis. Also, if one of your mentors from the Build Your Team section is an “equal”, or someone in the same situation as you, have that person make a barrier log and share logs with each other online or during meetings.

In the next post, we will answer reflection questions to strengthen our understanding of how we’ll take action.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

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Photo Credit: www.flickr.com Celestine Chua

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