Job mobility isn’t what it used to be. You can’t count on the next new opportunity to show up and provide you the experiences you need the most. Today, you need to get clear on what you need to learn and what skills you need to improve — and then seek out assignments that will get you there.

“Not all assignments are created equal — some will have a greater effect on your development than others,” says CCL’s Jean Leslie.

Leslie and her colleagues have mapped out activities to help leaders develop the 16 critical skills that are measured by Benchmarks®, a 360-degree assessment that was recently updated by CCL.

“When managers receive data about their strengths and weaknesses from the Benchmarks assessment, they are usually eager to set goals and find ways to build their skills,” says Leslie. “We help them identify job assignments — or volunteer roles — that matter most for them.”

The following ideas for developmental job assignments address eight of the 16 critical leadership competencies and are adapted from CCL’s Benchmarks Development Planning Guide. The remaining eight competencies will be featured in next month’s issue of Leading Effectively.

To Develop… You Need… Assignments Could Include…
Strategic Perspective
Understands the viewpoint of higher management and effectively analyzes complex problems.
Experiences in which you must align with broader strategic initiatives or work on ill-defined problems.
  • Take a temporary assignment in another part of the business to better understand its priorities.
  • Bring a well-researched proposal on an issue you would like to see handled differently to your boss.
  • Work on a project managed by someone higher in the organization than your immediate boss.
Being a Quick Study
Quickly masters new technical and business knowledge.
Experiences that add an unfamiliar responsibility to your job or require you to work in a completely different context.
  • Work in a short-term assignment at another office, in another region or in another country.
  • Join a project team doing work you know little about.
  • Volunteer to teach someone else something you don’t know well.
Prefers quick and approximate actions in many management situations.
Experiences that require you to make quick decisions and take action.
  • Work the customer hotline.
  • Make a decision on something you’ve been procrastinating about.
  • Serve on a task force working on a pressing business issue.
Change Management
Uses effective strategies to facilitate organizational change initiatives and overcome resistance to change.
Experiences in which you are creating new directions or fixing problems.
  • Volunteer your work group as a test site for a new organizational system or process.
  • Represent your group on a task force making changes in organizational policies.
  • Work with your direct reports as a group to reorganize their work responsibilities to better fit with organizational priorities.
Leading Employees
Attracts, motivates and develops employees.
Experiences in which you must motivate and develop employees so that they can be successful.
  • Delegate one of your job responsibilities to a direct report.
  • Work to retain a valued employee who is thinking about leaving the organization.
  • Hire and develop people of different genders, ethnic groups and races.
Confronting Problem Employees
Acts decisively and with fairness when dealing with problem employees.
Experiences in which you deal with people problems and have to face and resolve conflict.
  • Resolve a conflict with a direct report.
  • Commit to handling an employee performance issue you’ve been avoiding.
  • Take on the responsibility of coaching employees with performance problems in your group.
Participative Management
Involves others, listens and builds commitment.
Experiences in which you have to get things accomplished through others and need their commitment and trust.
  • Represent concerns of employees to higher management.
  • Manage projects that require coordination across the organization.
  • Lead your team in an after-action review.
Building Collaborative Relationships
Builds productive work relationships with coworkers and external parties.
Experiences in which you are working with others to create change or are working across boundaries.
  • Work with a colleague to get a cross-unit problem solved.
  • Manage projects that require coordination across the organization.
  • Represent your organization at a professional conference.

Learn more: Developmental Assignments: Creating Learning Experiences without Changing Jobs, by Cynthia D. McCauley

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