“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail” — Benjamin Franklin
To be successful in your career as well as in your private life, you should be aware of your strengths, talents, weaknesses, and opportunities concerning your personality, your skills, and your values. That's what all successful managers have in common. Your profile should match today’s requirements in business! Assess your potential realistically using validated tests!
Figure 1: Making your vision a reality
Find out your strengths, weaknesses, and future potentials (concerning your competencies, values, and personality traits) by taking folloowing tests:
Be aware of the fact that even the most successful managers like Steve Jobs, Marc Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and many entrepreneurs of Germany‘s Hidden Champions were once in the same situation as you are now! They started with a vision that was neither wishful thinking nor a dream nor an extension of past practices into the future! Their vision had exceptional energizing power and served as a compass in life. The power of their vision came from
How are these three elements interconnected? Consider the following example: Generating creative ideas may be an important skill. However, if you lack perseverance (a personality trait), this skill will not lead to emotionally or financially rewarding results. The same applies to your values. If you are not honest (a value) with your customers, they will disregard your creativity since trust is of the essence in a risky undertaking. Therefore, a synergistic combination of values, skills, and traits is necessary.
A key question remains: which competencies, values, and personality traits are important or relevant? There is an easy answer in theory, but it is extremely difficult in reality: Your strengths must match the requirements. If you follow a general management career, the requirements come from the strategy of the company you want to join. Please note that the culture of a company represents its personality!
If you pursue an entrepreneurial career, your personal vision is decisive and can be created only by yourself. Such considerations are the subject of our personal coaching. The basic idea behind it is shown in the next figure:
Figure 2: Pursuing the perfect match of requirements and your personalty (values, traits, and skills)
The importance of a vision can be illustrated by two statements. One is by Hellen Keller. She was a famous American author who lost her sight and her hearing in early childhood. Once, she said,
"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision."
The other statement was made by Mark Twain, an American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, and publisher. His statement:
„The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
Furthermore, there are various practical reasons for having a vision. It directs your effort and attention towards activities that are essential. Consequently, it helps you avoid irrelevant actions and hence saves time (reduces stress). It...
... gives you the feeling of being successful,
... provides you with energy,
... boosts your self-esteem,
... gives you a sense of purpose,
... supports learning (discovering new task-related knowledge),
.. has a positive impact on your emotions,
... helps you find supporters, friends, and partners,
... will earn you respect and admiration from others (as a role model).
A vision is not wishful thinking, an intention, an illusion, or future actions. It describes a future (!) situation that does not exist now. It should meet the SMART principle (specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, and time-bound). Attractiveness is particularly important. How do I do it? Describe the future situation once you have achieved your vision (imagine you are already in this situation). Use all your senses to describe the situation:
I see ...
Others (friends, colleagues, partners) see, feel, hear, say to me, tell to their friends, etc.
Note: A vision is a creation, not a prediction!!!
A popular method for creating a vision is to take a perspective from the end of your life.
Careful and purposeful consideration of these questions can create a vision and help shape you as an individual and a leader.
Values have the same motivating power as a vision. Through values, leaders take initiative and mobilize people for participation in the process of change, encouraging a sense of collective identity and efficacy. Values are general concepts of what is right, worthwhile, or desirable. They serve as criteria for the selection of actions, judgment, and preference. Values determine people’s hopes, fears, and expectations, which deeply influence their attitudes and day-to-day behavior. Values are comparable to lubricants in human relationships.
The following list consists of around 50 common values. Select eight of them that you consider particularly important for you. Nevertheless, because these values are very abstract terms, it is necessary to define them operationally. For instance, what do you mean by honesty, openness, courage, etc.? Describe a situation in which you had the feeling of honesty, openness, courage, or fairness. Transfer your (defined) values into the pdf file, which can be downloaded here, and fill it out as shown in figure 2.
The logic of the table is like a matrix being applied in a tournament. Compare every couple of values, for instance, a and c, and enter an c into the matrix when you consider c to be more important than a. Repeat this procedure for every combination of two values. As a result, you will find three or four values that are really important to you. This procedure is necessary since most people consider values important based on their social desirability or popularity.
Figure 2: How to discover one's authentic values
Once you have taken the two tests (personality and competencies) and determined your authentic values, you are in a position to work out your personal development plan (PDP). You may start with a rough outline as shown in Figure 1.
Your most important personality traits and values (those with the highest score) give you energy and determine whether your vision is realistic (achievable). Since traits and values are hard to change or learn, consider them enabling or limiting factors. For instance, if you lack resilience, enthusiasm, and creativity, you should not consider forming a startup in a turbulent high-tech environment; if you score low on sincere trust, you should not strive for a job in a technological business-to-business context.
The strengths and weaknesses of your personality, your values, and your competencies are all based on your self-image. To make it more reliable, other tools are needed, such as 360-degree feedback or behavioral event interviewing. Your PDP should undergo a critical examination by an independent coach in terms of logical consistency, feasibility, and success prospects. In this part, you get feedback and additional ideas for implementing your PDP successfully.
If your vision is entrepreneurial, your intermediate goal could be working out a business plan for an innovative idea. If your vision is to move ahead towards a general management career in a company, your intermediate goal could be making a contribution to solving a pressing problem (finance, technology, organization, marketing, etc.). We recommend you start with a PDP for your area of responsibility, as indicated in Figure 3.
The following instructions should be helpful:
Figure 3: Connecting your Personal Development Plan with Business
There are many personality tests. Most of them lack a clear relationship to business tasks of managers. This was the reason to develop such a personality test. It is the Business-related Personality Test (BPT) by Waldemar Pelz. It has been validated with a sample of 31,373 participants and meets required quality criteria (objectivity, validity, reliability, and standardisation). You will find details following this Link: BPT. Figure 4 gives an overview.
Figure 4: Business-related Personality Test (BPT) by Waldemar Pelz
The logic of the BPT is as follows: One managerial function is planning. Effective planning requires a clear vision and developing a strategy. A manager will perform this task particularly well when his traits are creativity, curiosity, optimism, and ambition. These traits will also satisfy his Achievement motive and give him a lot of positive energy, which in turn increases his effort of strategic planning. Of cause, a manager could “purchase” a strategy from a consulting company. However, in this case his role is those of a mercenary and not of a enthusiastic entrepreneur with perseverance.
Competence is a combination of skills and knowledge that is necessary to accomplish a specific task efficiently (doing things right) and effectively (doing the right things) or to dominate an explicit challenge. How well a professional or manager masters a competence can be seen from the result (measured by key figures such as productivity and profitability).
The following 20 management competencies were selected according to two criteria: The first principle is the frequency with which these skills are used in the recruitment, selection, and development of high-potential employees (e.g., assessment centres, management audits, or recruitment interviews). The companies examined included "Most Admired Companies" from the Fortune 500 and medium-sized world market leaders from Germany (so-called Hidden Champions). The second principle is how well these competencies can predict the future performance of candidates (technical term: predictive validity). The 20 competencies were validated based on samples of 23,598 participants and met the required quality criteria (objectivity, validity, reliability, and standardization).
Note: Each of the 20 competencies is operationalized by five to eight behavioral descriptions. Example: "Being a role model"