It’s September and the kids have gone back to school. Classes, extracurricular activities and sports have started for the fall season. As a leader, it is the perfect time to consider what you are going to commit to, in order to flex your learning agility muscles.
Throughout my career, I’ve been very fortunate to work for organizations that were committed to leadership development and I have personally benefited by participating in many first-class learning opportunities all over the world. These courses and experiences challenged me both personally and professionally and helped to make me a better leader. If your organization offers you a leadership learning opportunity, say yes and leave your inhibitions at the door. Remember, you get out what you put in so jump into the deep end and take full advantage of each work sponsored learning experience.
There is more you can do though to advance your learning objectives than solely participate in work assigned professional development. Each of us is ultimately responsible for our own development and needs to champion our own learning path. In my case, I augmented my internal leadership development with external educational opportunities such as; post-graduate studies and certifications, individual leadership coaching, and, a membership in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). I must admit, as my career developed it became harder to commit the time required and I had to fight myself to stay in the moment and fully participate because my other responsibilities were calling out loudly. Despite the distractions, I hung in there and ended up getting a lot out of each program.
It’s also important for leaders to recognize that leadership is never static. Leaders need to ensure they are keeping up to date with changes in expectations from stakeholders, the market, legislation and evolving business technologies. There are many opportunities for continuous learning to stay on top of your game.
While I fully believe in a combination of both work sponsored and individually driven learning, there is another insight I would like to share that has helped me continue to grow.
I’ve long made a habit of scheduling time just to think and strategize. It sounds a bit silly really – putting time in your calendar just to think – but I will share a little secret with you: it works! Most days, we are so busy doing, we don’t have time to reflect, strategize or explore new ideas. Sometimes, the only way to achieve this is to actually schedule time and stick to it. By making time for reflection equally as important as other key items on our agenda – we create the space for new ideas to flourish and allow ourselves time to grow and evolve as a leader.
I frequently share this technique with leaders whom I am working with and at first there can be some resistance to this idea, however, in almost all cases, once the leader sticks to this discipline, results start to manifest and leaders remain committed to this practice.
I’ve shared what works for me. Now it’s your turn. It’s back to school time – what are you going to commit to this fall to support yourself on your leadership journey?