Career Development for Managers, Leaders, and Professionals: Making the Most of What You Have and More of What You Don’t - (part 2)
"I’ll bet most of the companies that are in
life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t
pay enough attention to developing their leaders."
-- Wayne Calloway, Chairman, Pepsi Co.
So, what’s a hard-working, forward-looking person
like you to do? You think you know yourself pretty well, right? After all, you’ve
been with yourself for well, for just about forever. Maybe you think you’re
already doing everything you can to improve your game. You’ve gone to training
seminars, continuing education classes, and motivational speakers. You even went
to the company retreat where they made you climb across high wires and join the
finale with the group hug. What more can you do? Listen. Career Development is
not just about skill building or training. These things are necessary, but they
account for a very small percentage of why the good get even better.
Decades of experience and research demonstrate that, when
executives either stall or derail in their careers, it’s typically a result
of their heavy reliance on strengths and strategies that were effective in the
past. However, these tried-and-true methods simply cannot carry the day during
dramatically changing times. Yet, the under-performing executive does not admit
this and resists embracing a new approach.
Development is about knowing yourself even better--well
enough to make true, lasting behavioral changes--and a viable plan to meet your
change objectives. To do that, you’ll need:
Solid, valid feedback about all of your strengths and weaknesses
multi-lateral motivation to make the necessary changes,
Change partners for your development initiatives.
Together, these three elements serve as the infrastructure
for your Action Plan, which guides your achievement of measurable results. Let’s
take a closer look at these three elements.
Feedback: Use high-tech, state-of-the-art assessment instruments
to provide detailed feedback about your "work personality," namely
your strengths and weaknesses in your Thinking Style, Emotional Style, Work Motivations,
Interpersonal Style, and Interpersonal Influence. This information will tell
you where there are gaps between your potential and your present level of performance.
These are targeted areas for growth. You then use the feedback you collect from
these assessment tools to construct the goals for your Action Plan. "I have
to communicate better with the members of my team," "I need to be more
perceptive about people," "I need to become more comfortable in social
Many people make the mistake of trying to guess or quickly
decide where they need to improve. This is usually insufficient. Why? Because,
quite simply, you don’t know yourself and your flaws as well as you think
you do. In fact, there’s a part of our mind that rather likes to keep these
deficits out of our awareness. That is why we recommend using a more objective,
validated approach to assessing your work personality. There are several fine
instruments available for this purpose.
Motivation: We know that adults are motivated to learn
and change when we appeal to their personal growth and personal gain. In other
words, it is important to find out WIIFM- What’s In It For Me? Motivation
also increases when enhanced self-esteem and empowerment are part of the deliverables.
So, figure out what you stand to gain by bridging the gaps in your performance.
How will your work performance improve? In what ways will you become a more effective
leader? How will your development affect the team and your relationship with
Give these questions some careful consideration. At the
same time, take a hard look at the consequences of not doing anything to improve
your game. Will you still be seen as progressive in the company? How will not
changing affect your chances for advancement? Will your work relationships suffer?
These consequences can also serve as a motivating influence on your commitment
to change. Make your lists of what you stand to gain and what you stand to lose.
Revisit the issue in a few days and add to your list of motivators.
Change Partners: Enlist the involvement of others. Change
requires support from others playing a variety of roles: coach, mentor, counselor,
advocate, and more. Change requires change partners! You’ve seen from your
own experience that your commitment to change can wax and wane. (Exercise? Stop
smoking? Diets? Temper?) It really helps to have someone in your corner who is
supporting your efforts and gently reminding you to get back on track if they
see you slip.
Who can you involve in your development plans? Which colleagues
would support you in achieving your goal? How can your spouse help you monitor
your progress? Is your supervisor interested in helping you? (They usually are
and usually see your efforts as highly commendable.)
You’ve now got the basics for developing yourself
and supercharging your career. Start your own Career Development project today
by gathering these three pieces of the Action Plan!