How committed are you to your personal development?
As our coaching conversation continued, Susan* recounted several stories from the past week, professionally and personally, indicating the significant personal growth she is experiencing. She works in Human Resources as a corporate trainer.
She is investing in her own personal growth as an emerging leader.
Recently her manager, unannounced, sat in on one of her training sessions.
In the recent past, she would have reacted; this time she responded. How did she respond?
- She noticed her emotions, took a deep breath, and examined her thinking.
- This allowed her to stop the emotional reaction
- This also silenced the assumptive voices playing with her head
- Which gave her a minute to examine her thinking and change it
- She received positive feedback from her boss for her Improved Performance
After sharing a couple of other real world incidents, she had this puzzled look on her face…she was processing. “I don’t understand how all this focus on me fits with serving others as a leader. It seems a little selfish to give all this attention to me.”
Starting with the obvious, I ask, “Are you a woman, wife, and mother?” Long pause and smile. “What is it you normally do in all your roles?”
“Nurture others, take care of them…”. Then, she connected the dots.
I pressed on, “What are you seeing in your relationships with your boss, your co-workers, even your husband as a result of this effort on you developing you?” (Her stories from the previous week involved all of these individuals.)
“Things are improving,” she observed.
“Indeed. Is your influence increasing?”
“If leadership is influence, then giving attention to your own development has increased your leadership…your influence…improved your performance; the impact on others is positive, right?”
Freedom to give attention to your own personal development is far from being selfish as others reap the benefits of your growth, too. Life is good.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, author of 26 books including What Got You Here Won’t Get You There a New York Times best-seller, Wall Street Journal #1 business book tells about General Mills CEO Steve Sanger in this Fast Company article – “To Develop Others, Start with Yourself”. Here are some excerpts (emphasis added):
Listen to what General Mills CEO Steve Sanger recently told 90 of his colleagues: “As you all know, last year my team told me that I needed to do a better job of coaching my direct reports…I have been working on becoming a better coach for the past year or so. I’m still not doing quite as well as I want, but I’m getting a lot better. My coworkers have been helping me improve.”
While listening to Steve speak…I realized how much the world has changed. Twenty years ago, few CEOs received feedback from their colleagues [or] discussed their personal developmental plans. Today, many of the world’s most respected chief executives are setting a positive example by opening up, striving continually to develop themselves as leaders. In fact, organizations that do the best job of cranking out leaders tend to have CEOs like Steve Sanger who are directly and actively involved in leadership development.
No question, one of the best ways top executives can get their leaders to improve is to work on improving themselves. Leading by example can mean a lot more than leading by public-relations hype.
Unfortunately,…CEO arrogance can have the opposite effect. When the boss acts like a little god and tells everyone else they need to improve, that behavior can be copied at every level of management. Every level then points out how the level below it needs to change. The result: No one gets much better.
The principle of leadership development by personal example doesn’t apply just to CEOs. It applies to all levels of management. All good leaders want their people to grow and develop on the job. Who knows? If we work hard to improve ourselves, we might even encourage the people around us to do the same thing.
For your reflection this week:
- What are your thoughts on you developing you?
- How are you openly developing yourself?
- What is the biggest hindrance to intentional personal growth?
- How high of a priority is leadership development this year for you?
- Who is on your leadership or management team, your circle of influence that you will encourage to develop their personal development plan for 2010? How will you support their efforts?
“Great leaders encourage leadership development
by openly developing themselves.”
– Marshall Goldsmith
Yes, we celebrated Susan’s personal growth and related performance improvement. As she closed her journal, she ran her fingers over the title: Next Level Journal…Accelerated Personal Development. She now understands the power of coaching; accelerated personal development.
Gaining insight into who she is and what is driving her she is changing business behavior that has been getting in her way. With improved relationships and improved performance, her influence grows. Her stress is lower and life is better; very worthwhile wouldn’t you say?
Here’s to your Next Level…
*Not my client’s name, it is changed to maintain her privacy