The Imperative of Personal Growth
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I write this post with the premise you are a manager or a person interested in accessing a management position. However, it applies to all highly skilled professionals acting as technical experts in their field and having a decisive contribution to a team.
Personal development, often referred to as personal growth, should always be in your focus, for several reasons:
1. Managers are responsible for developing the people in their team.
Only if you see and appreciate the value of personal development on yourself, will you be able to offer it or create conditions for it to happen to the people you lead. As a manager, you need to model personal development for your people. Your boss will actually keep you responsible for it, and will keep an eye on both your ability to develop yourself and how you create an environment of personal development for your team.
2. Personal development is not the same as technical training.
While remaining current in the labour market with respect to technical skills is absolutely crucial, your personal development goes beyond pure training and acquiring new knowledge.
3. Personal development targets aspects of your mindset with which you will deploy and apply that technical knowledge.
This means it is not about whether you have or do not have certain technical knowledge or skill, it is rather about you being confident you will be able to apply it successfully and obtain results through the people in your team, irrespective of what technical knowledge you actually have.
It is also about how you deal with obstacles while doing it, about the impact you have over the team you lead with respect to their motivation and productivity, your ability to remain positive, and the trust they have in each other, in yourself and your work together.
I give you several examples that are specific to your management position:
- You will successfully grow credibility and trust with other managers when they observe that you consistently keep your promises, deliver as estimated, prioritize contribution over demands, offer your support unconditionally, put your ego aside in service of the greater good, attend to your team members' needs before expecting them to take care of you, and hold yourself accountable—making earnest efforts to correct any variances from what you've promised.
- You will effectively make yourself heard when you prioritize active listening as your main tool for understanding those around you, the situation, and yourself, then act on these insights while remaining open to others' perspectives before forming or expressing your own conclusions.
- You will gain the respect of your team when you unconditionally offer respect first, while setting aside your ego to stay open and active in dialogues that build solutions.
- You will be able to delegate effectively when you fully believe that your team members can excel at their tasks and trust that they possess the internal knowledge and resources to handle them satisfactorily.
- You will excel as a team member, even in a leadership role, when you embrace the idea that others on the team may have superior concepts and become an enthusiastic advocate for those ideas.
- You will master the art of prioritization when you establish and honour healthy boundaries for both yourself and your team within the context of your organization, as well as for your team's interactions with other organizational units.
4. Your management performance is dictated also by the degree of maturity in life, which itself involves personal development.
Management is always about limited resources and how these are spent. Your focus as a manager needs to always go to areas that support maximum impact towards attaining organisational objectives.
But where your focus stays is very much related to your own system of priorities, much dependent on your values system, your beliefs, the general assumptions you apply in your life, and your past experiences, mainly the unsuccessful or hurtful ones.
If you subscribe to the belief that 'success requires extreme effort and sacrifice,' it's likely that you'll manage situations and relationships in a way that introduces unnecessary urgency or 'life-and-death' scenarios. You may create an environment where teamwork becomes excessively strenuous compared to the actual input required by others. This could result in setting expectations that are disproportionately high for the role you're in, which can lead to inflated costs, overemphasis on quality beyond what is needed, or an excessive level of control to ensure the outcome you perceive as expected. In such a setting, it's understandable that people may become demotivated or frustrated, leading to mistakes. Additionally, there could be extra costs—financial or otherwise—borne not just by your team, but also by your wider social circle, including family and friends
5. Personal development is a lifelong process.
There's never a point in life where personal growth becomes optional. The encouraging aspect is that humans are naturally designed to go through multiple cycles of maturity. Each stage of life offers us a new level of understanding and acceptance of our reality, accompanied by increasing wisdom. However, it's important to note that each life stage also presents its own unique challenges, which add to the inherent pressures associated with a managerial role. Not to mention that any start in management at an early age does not benefit from an adequate maturity level, and this is a challenge in itself.
No matter where you find yourself in life, your mindset shapes how you perceive, understand, and incorporate reality. Each increase in awareness opens up new avenues for finding personal meaning in your life journey. With every advance in your understanding, you gain a fresh viewpoint. This leads to an evolving mental framework that enriches your understanding of yourself, your relationships, your goals, and your purpose. Once these new insights take hold, you can't revert to your previous way of seeing things. As a result, you'll begin to feel differently, interact with your reality in a new way, and have the opportunity to act differently in this transformed landscape of understanding.
In a nutshell, you will not be the same when you change your perspective.
To allow yourself to grow, you will have to learn to observe and study your own way of thinking, of taking decisions and of acting.
Personal development allows you to master self-observation and to integrate new learning about self into the new YOU, a better version of your current self.
But how to observe yourself objectively and be able to conduct this analysis?
Where to look first? What to start with?
Which are the signs you look in the right direction?
How to not remain entangled in your own feelings?
How to do this inner work while focusing outside yourself?
How to measure success on this road?
And once awareness shifted, where to head now?
These questions are essential for anyone on a journey of personal growth. Whether you ask them explicitly or they linger in the back of your mind, they're crucial to address. Failing to find answers can lead to a life filled with stress, uncertainty, ethical dilemmas, missed opportunities, and regret over not having taken timely action.
But what if one does not have a lifetime to spend to find these answers?
When a manager steps into a new or higher role, there is generally a six-month window to prove their capabilities. This is a crucial period, as people are usually more cooperative and supportive during this time. Managers at any level need to quickly become aware of the mindset changes required for success in their new positions.
Many senior managers understand this transitional period and may provide the new manager with either an internal or external coach. If you're in such a fortunate situation, it's a sign that the organization wants to support you through this demanding phase.
However, in organizations where the senior management lacks a coaching culture, new managers are often left to navigate these new challenges on their own. If you find yourself in this situation, it's advisable to seek out a coach to help you make a successful transition.
How can coaching help? Briefly, coaching can fast-track your personal development, shift your awareness, help you focus on key areas, and hold you accountable for your goals. It pushes you to ask the right questions and helps you maintain an objective view of yourself, all in a supportive and professionally guided environment.
Are you currently transitioning to a new managerial role? Maybe it is your first step as a manager. Maybe you have been selected and given the opportunity of a middle-management role. Or maybe you have just been hired to strategically lead an operation unit or a small or medium-sized company? How do you relate to this post? Are you well-supported in your transition? I'd love to hear about your experience. You can book a discovery session with me to strategize and plan your path to success.
Having been there myself, having worked with, groomed and coached over 200 managers to date, I know the challenges managers encounter when having to create value from each level. If you want to understand better how you can unleash your performance, let’s talk! I am the thinking partner of highly driven and courageous people who know they can be more and are serious and decided about their growth.
Your Management Performance Coach
The Importance of Personal Development
- Personal growth is not optional; it's a continuous necessity for everyone, especially managers.
- Distinguishes between personal development and technical training, emphasizing that the former shapes the mindset with which you apply technical skills.
- Management performance is deeply influenced by one's level of personal maturity, which evolves through personal development.
The Role of Coaching in Management
- New managers usually have a six-month window to prove themselves, making rapid personal development crucial.
- Senior managers who understand this often provide new hires with coaching support.
- In the absence of a coaching culture, new managers should proactively seek coaching to navigate their new roles effectively.
Coaching's Benefits & Invitation to Connect
- Coaching accelerates personal development, broadens awareness, and helps in focusing on key areas for growth.
- It aids in asking the right questions and helps maintain an objective self-view, all within a professionally guided environment.
- An invitation to readers transitioning into new managerial roles to share their experiences and consider a discovery session for strategic planning.
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