Take Charge of Your Professional Growth
As a company leader, you know that one of the keys to business success is investing in your employees. It’s important to support your direct reports with coaching, training and ongoing education — whatever it takes to enable and inspire them. But how often do you take the time to improve your professional acumen?
Just as with your employees, the more you put in to develop yourself, the more return you’ll get from your investment. So take responsibility for your professional growth, pledging to focus on yourself for a change and then:
Create a self-development plan with actions and dates that establish accountability. The very best bosses I’ve worked for were self-driven, lifelong learners who were always putting their goals down on paper and assigning a timeline with action steps for accomplishing those goals. They remained personally accountable to whatever they were pushing themselves to learn, do or achieve. And having that plan on paper as opposed to just in your head was critical. As such, their ideas became less a dream and more a reality because they now had a carefully defined roadmap with action steps for implementation and a timeline for accountability. What I learned from these successful bosses is that having, implementing and sticking to that written plan boosts the odds of its success.
Work with a trusted, honest mentor. And you can’t just pick any ‘ole buddy or colleague you admire. Start by choosing someone who is an expert in whatever you’re trying to accomplish, learn or understand. This person needs to have “been there, done that,” and have done it well! Also, pick a mentor with good coaching skills — someone who will patiently guide you in decision-making, but not tell you what to do. You’ll want a mentor who is a straight shooter, always giving you the truth about your strengths and weaknesses. And remember, a mentor should always keep what you’re working on confidential unless you’ve given that person permission to share information about the experience with someone else. Your secrets must be safe with your mentor.
Increase your expertise by engaging in relevant, continual learning opportunities. As if you have space on your calendar to sign up for classes, learn some new skills, or go to that annual conference, right? Well, no more excuses — time to make room for your professional development. But don’t worry… you can and should pace yourself to avoid burnout. Just like strength training at the gym, start off easy (but do get out of your comfort zone) to better your professional development. Perhaps commit to reading one chapter of a business book every night before bed. Maybe download an app that delivers business news to your Smartphone and scan the info while drinking your morning cup of coffee. Or, attend the local chamber’s hour-long business seminars simply once a month. Good learning opportunities of all kinds and sizes are everywhere. Invest in yourself in ways big and small, and you’ll soon net noticeable rewards.
Do you have a trusted mentor?