This is an AI transcript of the podcast, please excuse any minor errors.
Sadly there is still an all too common belief amongst leaders that they won’t benefit from personal development and it’s over rated. They believe that the technical skills that got them to where they are will be enough to keep them going. These leaders are intelligent, good at figuring things out and as long as they hit their targets, then whippi doodee and all is good.
Honing their technical skills is something they still pay attention to. Looking at themselves and the soft skill side of leadership isn’t seen as important.
One of the reasons for this is that they don’t hear or see leaders around them doing the sort of personal development that leads to increased self awareness, authenticity and real empowerment.
Lifelong learning and continuous growth is something we know is fundamental to business success. If our staff arrive having left university and think “that’s it, I know it all, now let’s get on the career ladder” we’d laugh our heads off.
There is a point in our leadership journey that our learning and growth isn’t technical, binary or external, rather it’s subjective, contextual and internal.
That aspect of our growth and development can get a bit messy and messy isn’t something that’s talked about much in business and leadership development.
I think of leadership as a profession, just like dentistry or accountancy. There are skills leaders should have, like delegation, influence, coaching, consequential thinking, to name but a few. Qualities we admire in great leaders include authenticity, humility, resilience, courage, empathy.
How do we learn those skills and embody those qualities in ourselves?
The answer, personal development.
Consistent personal development through a variety of approaches brings with it many benefits:-
1. Increased self-awareness. You can’t change what you don’t know. Which means if you don’t know, aka aren’t aware of something, you can’t improve, change or stop it. Authenticity – is so much harder when you don’t know who you really are.
2. Becoming the best version of you. Through reflection, study, practice, feedback you can enhance your strengths and lead on purpose. Of course, becoming the best version of you, also requires increased self-awareness.
3. Harness your talents. There are things we’re good at, and then there are our talents or gifts. These we often take for granted and therefore overlook. Personal Development can make you aware of these and then learn how to harness them further so they benefit you, your team and the business.
4. Demystifying your blind spots and weaknesses. We all have them. And sometimes a blind spot can hide within it a talent. Personal Development isn’t about eradicating the weaknesses, rather it’s understanding how to manage and minimize the impact.
5. Add more value. As we continually learn and grow, we look to apply and contribute more, typically through others or strategically. We talk about empowerment. For a start this involves us learning to have dominion over ourselves, to own our power. To become aware of when we give it away or when we look to control others / situations. Until we learn this, we’re never going to be comfortable empowering others, even if we talk about it and aspire to it. We’re going to sabotage our efforts here.
6. Comfortably Uncomfortable. Again our growth keeps us on the leading edge of our comfort zone. It’s short bouts of discomfort, continuously repeated and we build our leadership muscles. Let’s face it, if we’re truly being a leader and adding value then we’re going to be making some tough decisions. If we like feeling comfortable we’re going to seek that in the decisions we make.
7. Inspire others. I said at the beginning that one of the reasons leaders deprioritize their development because they don’t see other leaders doing it. So as well as the above benefits I’ve mentioned, you get to lead by example, be a role model and inspire your team to want to continuously learn, grow and be the best version of themselves they can be. A lot of leaders I work with really do want to unlock the potential within their team. And they now understand that first they need to unlock the potential within themselves.
The Challenges with Personal Development are:-
1. Overwhelmed by choice. Where to start, what to focus on? What the next step that’s going to give you a return both short and long term.
2. Method. DIY, TED talk, podcast, book, online learning, immersive workshop, coach or mentor. Which route, or combination will give you the greatest ROI?
3. Staying power. You start off with good intentions and then get side tracked or experience a few “oops so that’s how not to do it” moments and before you know it, the book and your good intentions are mothballed.
Accountability, Impact and Investment
Whatever you’re choosing to develop, whether that’s a skill or a quality and by whatever method. Keep in mind that to maximise your growth and return on investment you need clarity on the following 3 things
1. Accountability – who and how will you be held accountable for what you’re learning. No accountability and it’s easy to back slide or fall prey to your favourite excuses.
2. Impact – Given what you want to develop what’s the impact to the business, the impact to your team/department, the impact to you.
3. Investment – time, money, energy. The magic triangle. Beware false economy.
Unlock Your Potential
I’m seeing an increase in the number of private clients I have, leaders who are investing in themselves.
Sometimes this is because the company they work for doesn’t see leadership development as critical to business success. Or the company is investing in technical L&D or the simpler aspects of leadership development.
Remember I said there is a point where your development is subjective, non-binary, contextual and internal. A lot of companies don’t know how to select and invest in that, so they keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best. And many of my private clients are getting promoted because they are the best.
I also have private clients invest in themselves rather than wait for the company to do it because it gives them autonomy over their development and there is no feeling tied or a sense of obligation to remain should an opportunity appear for them elsewhere.
There is a wonderful thought, “Wherever you go, there you are.” You are the one constant, in every situation that went well and ever situation that didn’t.
Investing in yourself is one way to ensure you’re maximising your potential in any given moment.
Take a few minutes to reflect on your leadership and where you want to go. Who do you want to be, what do you want to do and have?
If the next phase of your growth and development is more subjective, contextual or internal get in touch.
If you’re looking to own your power and truly empower others, get in touch.
And in the meantime, go and be the difference in leadership