In your organization, who is responsible for developing professional talent? Who figures out how to maximize and develop talent to help the organization innovate and remain competitive? Who develops succession strategies and “high potential” programs? Some would say that, ultimately, that’s the responsibility of senior leadership. Yes…but that’s only partially true. Others say that’s the responsibility of HR folks. Also partially true. Yet others will say that each manager or leader needs to take on this task. Again…only partially true. If not these folks, then who?
You are responsible for developing your personal and professional capacity. You are the person primarily responsible for discerning your gifts and talents, and for developing strategies to develop in a manner that enables you to make an impact in the lives of others, at work, at home, and in the community. You are the steward of your design.
Last week, I summarized an article by Robert Kegan posted in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. In that article, Kegan argued that when organizations engage in universal and continuous personnel development, they will experience “compassion alongside tough-minded introspection and organizational solidarity that comes from collective work at self-improvement.” I applaud and support this idea, but I also expressed skepticism in that only a tiny fraction of all organizations even have the cultural capacity to engage in such an effort.
What’s the solution?
You must own your development. You cannot outsource that to an HR department or anyone else in your organization. Sure, if your company offers development programs, you most certainly should take advantage of them! But do not abdicate responsibility for your development!
If you own your development, what should you do? Below is a bullet list of strategies. This is not comprehensive, but I believe that these are the minimum commitments if you truly own your development. That does not mean you are constantly engaged in all of these activities at all times—except for the bold items. Those bold items you should be engaged in on at least a weekly basis, perhaps even daily. However, over any two year period, you should actively engage in all of these activities.
- Developing Your Self-awareness
- Assessments and Feedback (e.g. MBTI, EQ-i, StrengthsFinder, …)
- Mentors and Accountability Partners
- Growing Through Learning
- Reading (choose challenging and varied topics)
- Seminars and Conferences
- Growing Through Serving Others
- Employ Your Gifts and Talents to help others through programs at work, church, or your community
- Expanding Your Perspective
- Connect In Your Organization (with people in other departments and divisions)
- Connect Outside Your Organization (with people in other disciplines and professions)
Look carefully at that list and you’ll see a neat pattern of self-awareness, learning, giving, and expanding. Every person I’ve known (casually or through coaching and consulting) who has engaged in such a program is living a life of purpose, fulfillment, and impact. This does not mean they do not have problems in life. They do, though, have the emotional, mental, and spiritual resources to not only deal with their problems but to see beyond them to a bigger picture. They are also individuals who are highly sought after professionally and in community circles because they are people of influence and impact.
They make a difference in eternally meaningful ways.
Do you want to own your development? Good. How do you start? Pick one of the bolded items in the list and get to work on it. Just one. Commit to it and build that activity into your schedule. In three months take another bold item from the list and get to work on that. And so on.
Own your development. Don’t give it to someone else!
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo “learning” by Anne Davis 773. Available at Flickr.com.