Leadership Development Series Part I: Invest in Your #1 Asset (You!)
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about three investments that Disciplined Leaders must make to drive results and reap big returns. That first investment is in YOU. Why? Because the journey to becoming a Disciplined Leader starts with you, so making a commitment to contribute to your professional growth and development is essential. Yet surprisingly, a lot of people don’t make even small, easy efforts to invest in themselves. For instance, according to a study by the Jenkins Group, 42% of college graduates never read another book after graduation. What’s more, 80% of families had not read a single book in the year prior to the study, while 57% of new books purchased weren’t read to completion. I realize that many people are reading more online nowadays, but I point out these statistics because reading books is one of the fastest, easiest ways to enhance your intelligence and understanding. It doesn’t matter whether you like to read books like “The Disciplined Leader,” watch a webinar, or attend a workshop in person, but just commit to building your brainpower in a way that helps accelerate your leadership over the next 12 months.
Here are a few ways you can invest in yourself:
Seize on-the-job opportunities. You don’t always have to be looking beyond your work environment for a way to improve your professional wellbeing—it might be right in front of you. Maybe it’s learning something new like a software program. Or it could be helping your boss by taking something off his or her plate and that requires you to push your comfort zone. It could even be asking to share in a responsibility, enabling you to get cross-training from a co-worker who does it well or better. All these examples are growth opportunities that can be tapped without stepping foot outside your workplace. Make a list of what you don’t know but would either like to understand or do more of. If it’s a long list, shorten it to three to-dos, picking those few that will align with your professional goals, help your boss, or meet an obvious need within your organization.
Attend a relevant class. In today’s world, there are so many online and in-person resources available for learning. When it comes to your professional leadership development, be selective about how you spend your time. If you’re enrolling in a class or attending a workshop, make sure it’s one that’s got a track record for success. For example, many of you have participated in MAP’s 2.5 day executive workshop, which has been attended by 170,000 leaders and managers for approximately 50 years. Part of the reason it’s been supported so well is because it works, so look for these kinds of opportunities that come with a pretty solid guarantee for delivering the results you seek. You can waste a lot of time, money and energy going to the wrong types of programs and classes, so choose your learning wisely.
Commit to a book. We all have opportunities for improving various aspects of our leadership or professional development, and the right book might be all you need to learn how to change. I get that you’re busy and finding time to relax and read may be a challenge. But many books, including “The Disciplined Leader,” are available in audio format, so you can listen while commuting to work, running on the treadmill, or folding laundry. If you prefer to sit down and read, creating a routine for this will boost your odds of starting and finishing the book. For example, you can dedicate 15 minutes of your lunch hour to reading, putting it on your calendar every day if necessary. Or, back up your bedtime routine by a half hour if you want to read for 30 minutes before turning off the light. If you view this book as part of your professional development versus just something fun or interesting to read, this mindset will help you to take it more seriously and up your odds of getting it done.
Have you ever struggled with making an “investment” in yourself—if so, why?