Recently, I had a terrific discussion with a successful, respected, high-ranking organizational leader with the Department of Interior. We were talking about his recipe for success, and what he looks for when considering the potential of others. A passion for self development made his list of top-three characteristics, when assessing an individual’s capacity for success in their current role, as well as their potential for promotion. He is one of many executive-level leaders I have talked with, who have confirmed this belief. So let me ask you, are you investing time into your self-development?
Many of us are required to complete continuing education hours. For example, as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, I’m required to complete 18 hours of continuing education hours every-other-year, in order to maintain my certifications in circuit, county, and family courts. Those bi-annual credit hours are mandatory, so like you in your field, obviously I’m motivated to complete them.
Mandatory CE courses are important, but what the executives have shared with me isn’t about fulfilling the criteria to maintain a certification or license. They are referring to self-development because you want to. Individuals with a self-motivated passion for continual improvement, a desire to add to their toolbox for success, and expand their expertise and capacity for excellence, stand out.
I can hear many of you lamenting now – just like some of my coaching clients – “who has the time for self-development?” I’ll tell you who makes the time… Top performers and great leaders.
Here are a few (of my personal favorite) self-development activities:
- Read a book. I read at least one book a month – a practice I started as a new leader more than twenty years ago. Select books by experts, on topics you believe will help you grow. Several of mine are so good, and continue to be so insightful, I have read them 4-5 times!
- Bonus! Talk about your key take-a-ways with someone else!
- Bonus bonus! Create a time-bound plan, just for you, to actually apply your key take-a-ways! (Mind blown yet?)
- Phone a friend. Specifically, a good mentor. Someone outside your direct chain of command, who can give you objective advice and guidance.
- For maximum benefit, create a formal plan with your mentor.
- Seek a mentor who has achieved a level of success and admiration you aspire to, and is willing to have discussions that will stretch you.
- Seek feedback. They key here is to earnestly seek feedback from the people you work closely with, then actually take action on the areas wherein the feedback suggests you have room for improvement.
- Bonus! If you pay attention, this one will give you inspiration for your next #1!
None of these self-development suggestions require a big expense or a significant time investment. They do, however, require some planning, self-motivation, and commitment. Are you seeing why individuals who proactively engage in self-development activities stand out to top executives? Planning, self-motivation, commitment – all critical elements of individual and organizational success. Folks who invest time in self-development also make things happen and get things done.
Need a suggestion to start you on a new self-development path? Right now I’m reading Change the Culture, Change the Game, by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. SO many great take-a-ways!
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