Career Fortitude



Career advancement through leadership development is what propels leaders to achieve greatness by continuously improving your leadership abilities.  Leadership development also promotes personal growth, the ability to drive business results, and ultimately provide yourself with career fulfillment.  Achieving goals in your career requires a proactive approach that combines self-awareness, continuous skill-building, and effective relationship-building.

Development, whether in our personal life or professional life, must be tailored to the individual level.  This is how strong connections between a person’s experiences, abilities, and emotional intelligence converge to help you uncover what area you’ll need to focus on to create lasting change.  This isn’t just for professional development.  This important process of self-awareness that leads to action and growth transcends into every aspect of your life.

An individualized approach specific to one person is the same in physiology and psychology.  A doctor doesn’t prescribe every patient the same medication, diet, and exercise routine.  Same with behavioral therapy, the exercises and tools differ for every patient.  The medication, physical activity, and mental exercises are prescribed according to each patient’s specific needs.  The same should be practiced in leadership development since we are all unique and have individual experiences, abilities, and emotional intelligence.  These areas must be analyzed before prescribing development activities.

My Foundational Approach To Leadership Development

The four foundational pieces of my leadership development plans are: Reflect – Personalize – Visualize – Act.  Let’s take a look at each piece and identify a few tools used to fuel development and growth.

Reflect – What brought me to this point?  Am I where I want to be?

Begin by reflecting on where you are and how you got here.  This is a time to consider the decisions you’ve made in your career and determine if your values and motivators have remained the same.  Think about what has gone well in your career.  Consider the aspects that bring fulfillment and joy, and understand the aspects that bring frustration and imbalance.

Development tools used in reflection:

  • Identifying your core values
  • Understanding how your core values guide you
  • Connect past achievements to current values
  • Identify areas of career satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Personalize – Who do I want to be?  What do I want to accomplish?

Next, you must determine your current motivators.  This stage includes exercises and assessments to help you strengthen your personal brand while connecting your values with your aspirations.  Take lessons learned from the past, review your values, and utilize your growth mindset to access your full potential.

Development tools used to support personalization:

  • Identify your communication style
  • Understanding the communication styles of others
  • Using your growth mindset
  • Receiving 360-degree feedback
  • Self-awareness activities

Visualize – Who am I when I’m at my best?  What do I need in order to grow? 

This piece is all about connecting your reflection and personalization.  Take reflections from the past and ground yourself on your values and aspirations to visualize what success looks like in your journey.  This is a time to identify your signature strengths and blind spots.  Define boundaries for the version of yourself that promotes confidence, success, and well-being.

Development tools used to create your vision:

  • Identify your signature strengths
  • Identify your blind spots
  • Create a development action plan
  • Several leadership-specific activities

Act – What must happen to achieve my goals? How do I become the best version of myself?

The final piece is the time to bring your vision into reality.  This is where all the prior work you’ve done comes into action and progress starts.  This stage includes creating goals, defining expectations, and committing to executing to your best ability to achieve your goals.  Goals can be developmental, educational, or accomplishment-based.

Development tools used to take action:

  • Identify obtainable goals that create professional growth
  • SMART goal mapping
  • Creating accountability
  • Celebrating wins and reflecting on setbacks

But how long does this development take?

A common question for individuals seeking career advancement through leadership development is around timelines for each piece and how long the total process is.  There is no single timeline or straight answer to give you, unfortunately.  The same reason leadership development only works if it’s administered at the individual level is exactly why it’s impossible to say each person’s time and energy investment in each of these pieces will be identical.

Every person has their own unique skill set and level of emotional intelligence that makes us unique in our experiences and how to process those experiences.  If you’re in tune with your emotional intelligence and practice a growth mindset, you’ll find reflecting and personalizing comes naturally and you can identify your core reasoning for decision-making.  If you’re more skilled in creating a vision and implementing plans to achieve that vision, you’ll move more quickly through visualizing and taking action but it could take more time at the beginning in reflection.  Regardless of where your strengths lay, achieving career advancement through leadership development is grounded in emotional intelligence, the courage to take on the challenge, and investing in yourself.

8 Key Aspects For Achieving Career Advancement Through Leadership Development 

  1. Self-Awareness

Personal growth is a lifelong journey of self-discovery, development, and improvement.  It involves the conscious effort to become the best version of oneself in various aspects of life.  Self-awareness is the cornerstone of personal and professional growth.  In order to achieve career advancement through leadership development, you’ll need to understand your:

  • Strengths
  • Opportunities
  • Values
  • Motivators

Introspection and reflection are important practices individuals must use to gain insights into their patterns of behavior, motivations, and aspirations.  With leadership development, a genuine and thorough investment in self-awareness is key to ensuring you’re not only growing in personal aspects of your life but creating a balance that transcends into your professional life as well.

  1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence enables you to understand and connect with others, resolve conflicts, and inspire trust and collaboration.  Without strengthening your emotional intelligence, you’re at risk of lacking the critical social skills necessary to be an effective leader.

Aside from focusing on self-awareness to strengthen your emotional intelligence, here are other key areas where continuous growth is needed to succeed as a leader:

  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Emotional awareness


The most effective way to practice emotional intelligence in order to achieve career advancement through leadership development is to gather feedback from others around the key areas listed above.  Continuous learning through feedback and applying it to real-world situations is paramount in better understanding how your interactions with others are perceived and what impact it has.

  1. Courage

Courage is a fundamental trait that distinguishes great leaders from the rest.  In the face of adversity, courageous leaders demonstrate resilience, conviction, and the willingness to take bold action.  Even before an individual is in a leadership role, this courageousness appears in aspects of their personal life.  Leadership development magnifies this trait by leaning into how you respond to unfamiliar situations, risks, and managing your emotions.

Building up courage involves deliberate practice and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone.  Here are steps to help you cultivate courage:

  1. Identify your fears
  2. Set courageous goals and visualize success
  3. Challenge negative thoughts
  4. Take action
  5. Seek support
  6. Reflect, learn, and practice gratitude
  1. Setting Goals

Setting goals that promote leadership development is crucial when obtaining results, whether results are driven by business goals or personal achievements.  By defining clear and achievable goals, individuals can direct their efforts toward meaningful activities.  Once goals are defined individuals must measure their progress along the way and then reflect on the lessons learned.  Goals provide a sense of purpose and direction that motivates individuals to push beyond their comfort zones and pursue continuous improvement.

In order to achieve career advancement through leadership development, strong goal-setting must be an area of execution.  Here are keys to ensure you’re creating effective goals:

  • Reflect on your current state and past experiences
  • Be specific and measurable
  • Set challenging but attainable goals
  • Align with your values and objectives
  • Break down goals into actionable steps
  • Seek feedback and support
  • Regularly review goals and evaluate progress
  • Celebrate achievements and learn from challenges
  1. Accepting Challenges and Setbacks

Accepting challenges and setbacks is essential for personal growth.  Adversity provides opportunities for learning, resilience, and character development.  Facing challenges and setbacks is an inevitable part of life, but how you respond to them greatly influences your growth and success.  Here are key steps to effectively navigate through difficult situations:

  • Accept and assess
  • Embrace the challenge or setback
  • Clarify your goals
  • Practice resilience and persistence
  • Adapt and adjust your approach

By facing challenges with courage and perseverance, you’ll develop valuable skills, such as problem-solving, resilience, and adaptability, that contribute to your leadership development journey.

  1. Seeking Feedback

Seeking feedback and guidance from others is critical for personal growth.  Constructive criticism and advice from mentors and peers offer fresh perspectives and insights that support self-improvement.  Sharing your goals and seeking feedback from others results in support and excitement for your journey from others.  Supportive and inspirational individuals you surround yourself with help create a nurturing environment beneficial to growth and development.

Spend time asking questions that will provide concise and thoughtful feedback from your peer group, mentors, and leaders:

  • What do you think went well in this project/task/presentation/conversation?
  • What areas do you think could be improved?
  • Do you have any suggestions for how I can enhance my performance in the future?
  • Was there anything that surprised you about my approach or results?
  • How do you think my performance compares to expectations or standards?
  • What impact do you think my actions had on the team/project/organization?

Other methods that provide constructive feedback include performance reviews, 360-degree feedback, self-assessment tools, peer feedback groups, and customer reviews.

  1. Embracing Failures

Embracing Failures is absolutely key to growth but sometimes the most challenging aspect of personal growth.  Developing yourself to become the person you want to be and succeed as a leader results in many failures along the way.  Every great leader has faced a gauntlet of failures along the way.  It’s uncomfortable, defeating, and sometimes can lead to feeling unworthy.

Here’s how to avoid falling into those ruts and promote an environment where individuals grow from failures:

  • Accept failure
  • Process with a growth mindset
  • Take ownership of failure
  • Learn from failure
  • Maintain perspective
  • Seek feedback and support
  • Focus on solutions
  • Practice self-compassion

Accepting failure is important for growth and resiliency, but embracing failure goes one step further and creates a mindset dedicated to analyzing every aspect of a failure and coming away with lessons learned and the will to bounce back quickly.   By embracing failure as a natural part of leadership, learning from mistakes, and maintaining a positive mindset, you can turn setbacks into opportunities for growth, innovation, and ultimately, success.

  1. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the doorway to authentic connection, personal growth, and resilience.  It’s in the moments of vulnerability that we reveal our true selves, fostering deeper connections with others.  Historically in a business setting vulnerability was perceived as a weakness, but it’s actually a profound strength that fosters trust, connection, and innovation within teams.

Here are the best ways to open up as a leader and embrace vulnerability:

  • Share personal stories
  • Admit mistakes and imperfections
  • Ask for help and feedback
  • Express emotions appropriately
  • Encourage vulnerability in others
  • Be present and listen actively
  • Show appreciation and gratitude
  • Set boundaries and prioritize self-care

Leaders who fail to embrace vulnerability are doing a disservice to themselves and the culture of their team.  By embracing the methods above you’re allowing yourself to share more of your individual traits that encourage your team to do the same.  This mutual vulnerability is what creates strong connections with those around you and builds trust, encourages authenticity, and promotes compassion.

Committing To Leadership Development

Leadership development is critical to advancing your career.  Whether you’re seeking a promotion into a leadership role, a manager new in role needing to improve one or more of the 8 areas of leadership development, or are an experienced manager ready to fine-tune your leadership skills to advance to the next level, the fundamentals are the same.  There will always be new ways of improving productivity, expanding businesses, and utilizing technology in your leadership role, but by grounding yourself in these 8 areas of leadership development you will ensure you’re becoming a more balanced and capable leader.

Committing to leadership development requires dedication and intentionality.  It begins by setting clear goals for your growth as a leader, identifying areas for improvement and skills you want to develop.  Using a personalized development plan outlines specific actions and milestones to achieve your goals.

Identify what time and resources you’ll need for learning and skill-building activities, whether it’s through formal training programs, coaching, or self-study.  Be disciplined and accountable to your development plan by tracking your progress, seeking feedback, and adjusting your approach as needed.

Link to my FREE Career Satisfaction Worksheet

Philip Hilt – Leadership and Career Coach

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