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Introduction

Innovation is frequently associated with efficiency and implementing new ideas that help to achieve better outcomes. No professional can rely on present skills indefinitely but should strive to progress in his or her field of expertise. One should be familiar with the latest trends in the industry and capable of facilitating better achievement. Therefore, I believe that innovative ideas are the key to fostering personal, professional, and industry development. As a person with ambitious dreams and the decisiveness to make my dreams come true, I believe that innovations can be the source of inspiration both to personnel and customers. When I talk about innovation, I do not only mean technological or IT innovations. I mean creative and innovative approaches that help to achieve significantly better results. Current paper consists of two main parts. First, it presents the analysis of my personal and professional strengths and weaknesses in the areas of leadership and the ability to employ innovations. Second, I propose a SMART plan for improving my skills in the aforementioned areas. The plan has built-in mechanisms whereby its effectiveness in helping to acquire relevant managerial skills can be appraised.

Personal Strengths and Weaknesses

In this section, I will analyze my personal strengths and weaknesses related to innovation-driven leadership, flexibility, creativity, and risk-taking since aforementioned characteristics relate to my personal and professional abilities to offer and implement innovative solutions.

Innovation-related Personal Strengths

I like finding out about innovative solutions, technologies, and ideas and have an inborn curiosity in innovations. When I find out about new tool, gadget, or software, I like to evaluate how this tool could benefit my work. I welcome new ideas and believe that I am open to input and suggestions about doing things in a new way. Also, I am accomplishment-oriented and always look for more efficient ways to complete the work. Although I am a purpose-driven person, I am flexible and can adjust to others’ views and work on the team fairly well. Lastly, although I believe in planning and well thought-out approach to executing tasks, I like risk-taking and believe in acting spontaneously and on intuition when the situation warrants it.

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Innovation-related Personal Weaknesses

One of my traits that puzzle me is how the desire for innovations is sometimes combined with a measure of conservatism. For example, at times, I can appraise and adopt new ideas rapidly while at other times, I subject new ideas to thorough investigation, check and double-check them, and try to calculate possible risks as much as possible. In short, my reaction to an introduction of the innovative idea may be unpredictable, and response can range from warm acceptance to critical (although polite) dismissal. However, this is a partially positive trait since it is understandable that not every innovation or innovative idea is logically sound, economically justified or feasible.

Opportunities for Innovation

I believe that that there is a plenty of room for innovation in the sphere of management in sport business. For example, the widespread problem with overweight and obesity creates enormous demand for sports gyms, sports equipment, and opportunities to engage in sports activities. For instance, Center for Disease Control (CDC) (2014) states that factors related to physical behaviors and eating habits are the greatest areas for treatment and prevention of obesity. Therefore, there is a vast area for innovation in managing sports industry in a manner that makes it more appealing to people who would like to change their physical behaviors by engaging in regular physical exercise. Furthermore, there are areas in nearly every city/town where residents lack access to gyms and sports facilities. Therefore, there are opportunities on the market of sports equipment and sports and lifestyle-related services (counseling, coaching etc.) that can be exploited to increase market share or access new market. Notably, a manager can look for innovative ways of studying the demand and target audience, advertizing products and services and building customer base.

Threats to Innovation

Some threats to introducing and adopting innovations may be environment-related such as the pressure from the team members not to attempt to change things and be satisfied with the way things are, as well as the decline of the market or the decreased demand. Other threats may be complacency, indecisiveness, and the lack of expertise and managerial skills to introduce innovations.

Personal Plan

In order to strengthen my leadership and innovation-related skills, I would like to develop a business plan that builds on strengths and addresses weaknesses. Whetten and Cameron (2010) suggest that in order achieve maximum benefits and effectively enhance managerial and leadership skills, managers should focus on the most important and urgent matters and work towards the change with the end goal in mind.

SMART Plan

I would like to create a SMART business plan designed to improve my capabilities as an innovation-driven leader. In a SMART plan, ‘S’ stands for specific plan that targets the specific area that requires improvement. ‘M’ stands for measurable plan (one where the progress can be measured and evaluated). ‘A’ stands for achievable plan (doable and with realistic goals). ‘R’ stands for relevant and result-oriented plan. Lastly, ‘T’ stands for the plan that should be achieved within a specified time frame.

S: Specific. The plan is designed to improve my leadership skills and the ability think creatively, find innovative solutions, and implement them. In particular, I would like to enact a specific three-component plan for improving my managerial skills. First, within next 30 days, I will read one management-related source and apply two recommendations in order to improve my leadership skills. Second, I will ask a friend for suggestions about my leadership skills that might need improvement. Third, I will evaluate my progress in 30 days.

M: Measurable
My measurable goals are (a) minimum of one hour and a half of reading and reflecting on the subject of management leadership, and innovation; (b) minimum of one hour of discussion of covered material with another person; (c) implementation of at least of two innovative ideas in my life within next 30 days: one in my personal life and one in my study-related activities.

A: Achievable
I took the time to reflect and establish the timeframe for activities from sections ‘S’ and ‘M’. I am confident that I will be able to follow my plan and find established objectives realistic and achievable. I like reading and discussing various topics. Also, I am enthusiastic about making aforementioned positive changes for the sake of enhancing my leadership abilities and improving innovation-related management skills.

R: Result-oriented/Relevant
The plan is relevant since it enhances my skills in the sphere of a sport management. As a manager, I should possess strong leadership skills and be able to introduce innovations to enhance my and my unit/department’s performance. Moreover, the plan is result-oriented since I have clear and specific end goal in mind.

T: Time-specific
The plan is time-specific since I aim to complete pre-planned activities within 30 days. After 30 days will be over, I will evaluate the results.

Conclusion

This paper analyzed my personal and professional strengths and weaknesses in the areas of leadership and the ability to employ innovations. I proposed a SMART plan for improving my skills in aforementioned areas. The plan has built-in mechanisms for appraising its effectiveness and making sure that it achieves the goal of helping me to acquire relevant managerial skills.

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