Four essential steps: How to take ownership of your 'next'

Nov. 29, 2023

The more than 250 virtual participants in Scoular’s Perennial Symposium for Women in Agribusiness left with a toolbox for designing their futures.

The free leadership and career development conference was hosted in September by Scoular’s female-focused employee resource group, Scoular Women Influencing Culture, or SWIC.

Navalent, an Atlanta-based organizational and leadership development firm, provided free to all participants its “Designing Your Future Now” development workbook. Its pages walk people through exercises to assess their strengths, find out what others think, build a brand, network and outline a development plan.

The workbook also suggests books and other resources for diving deeper into how to build a personal development plan.

During the symposium, Mindy Millward, co-founder and managing partner of Navalent, provided four essential steps for participants to plot their paths to their “next.”

Know yourself

This process involves defining what you are good at and where you need to develop more. Also, reflect on what makes you extremely happy. What are the things that drain you that you never want to do? This is an opportunity to scrutinize anything you’re doing to hold yourself back.

Gather feedback from others

Do you have blind spots? How can you address them and keep track of them? One way to assess this is to create your own personal board of directors, people you trust to know you and to provide honest feedback. One exercise: Send an email to 10 people asking, “If you had to say my brand in three words, what would they be?” It’s a way of actively seeking out what others think.

Design your future

Some people have mission statements on where they want to be in 20 years. A person who thinks, “I’m already doing what I want,” might, after thinking about their “next,” subsequently aspire to be a CEO.

Others are good soldiers who do whatever is next according to others in the workplace. A person who thinks, “I’m already doing what I want,” might after thinking about life 2.0 aspire to be a CEO. Think about what impact you want to have in your company, what impact you want to have in your community and what you want to be known for.

Take action toward your dreams

Prioritize your ability to lean in by carving out time to think about what’s your dream and how to take action to achieve it. Some leaders set aside one day a year or monthly to focus on this. It’s also a time to see if your dreams synch up with the organization’s plans for you.

Megan Belcher, SWIC’s executive sponsor, closed out the symposium by urging participants to start thinking about what their dreams are for the future.

“Commit to do just one thing,” said Belcher, Scoular’s Chief Legal & External Affairs Officer. “Investing in yourself is by far the safest investment you can make. It really takes just one thing to change a trajectory.”