An old friend recently called me and told me about her work. Her company really values leadership and sees it as a competitive advantage in the marketplace, but they view personal development as the individual's responsibility. Much like how they expect my friend to dress business casual when she comes to work, but they are not going to take her shopping.
You may work in an organization that takes a more proactive approach and provides classes to attend or gives you a budget to spend on yourself for your own development. You may even work in an organization that doesn't care about your development at all, they just want the job done.
No matter what type of organization you work with, planning your own development as a leader is paramount to your improvement. We can not simply hope that we will improve or leave our development to chance.
So, what exactly does development look like? Development is about:
Growth as a person
Finding a new skill
Creating something new and exciting
Breaking out of the routine so that you become the person YOU desire to be
Perhaps you want to improve your position or your skills, yet you just are hoping that it will happen. Hope is a poor outcome predictor. Instead of hoping something will happen we need to intentionally engage others in our development.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE
You are conversing with a peer while waiting for a meeting to start. You say, "Hey, I am trying to speak less in meetings, but when I do speak, I am going to try to have more influence. My goal is to draw others to my ideas, rather than beat them into submission with my words. Could you observe me over the next few months and give me some feedback on how I am doing?" Admitting we need to develop something brings us face to face with the reality that if we do not make a change we will be stuck where we are for a long time. This takes courage and vulnerability.
Being intentional with your development allows you to go to other leaders, and even followers of yours, asking them to partner with you in the creation of the more advanced you. This may be scary, but so is skydiving, or running your first half-marathon, or going on your first date. Scary in an exhilarating sort of way. It demonstrates a healthy and respectful fear.
Sharing an aspect of your leadership development plan allows three important things to occur:
You are declaring that leading is important to you.
You are showing humility.
You are saying to others that stagnation is NOT OK with you.
If you are collecting feedback by involving others in your development I want to encourage you to pay attention to the accompanying emotion. Are you feeling sad or encouraged? Are you motivated or discouraged? No matter the emotion you are feeling, focus on what is being said and how you can use it to improve your leadership.
So, how are you involving others in your personal development? I’d love to hear your comments around the topic of intentionally developing yourself as a leader.