Leadership development: DIY

February 28, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is changing. That’s the provocative implication from Carter Cast’s Harvard Business Review article, “6 Ways to Take Control of Your Career Development If Your Company Doesn’t Care About It.” Here’s the opening paragraph.

“We are now in the era of do-it-yourself career development. Companies less frequently offer formal training — a trend that has been around for years. This may be because employees change jobs so frequently (job tenure now averages about four years) that firms don’t see the value in investing in people who are likely to leave. This is a sharp contrast with the investment that senior leaders used to make in employees. During my 11 years at PepsiCo, mostly during the 1990s, “personal development” was treated as a major company initiative.”

We can have hours and hours of fun debating just how leadership development is changing. Companies may, or may not, be doing less, but leaders have always been responsible for their own development. It’ always been DIY.

Leadership development and learning about leadership

You can learn a lot about leadership by reading and listening and watching. That’s good and necessary, but you won’t learn to lead that way. The only way to actually learn how you should lead is from experience.

Leadership development is learning how to lead

The only way to learn to lead is by leading. Sometimes you decide to try something and then do it. Sometimes a new situation surprises you on the job and you respond to it. In either case, you won’t learn much unless you analyze what happened and how you might do it better next time. Reflecting on behavior is the key to learning.

Leadership development at a faster clip

There are some things you can do to speed up your learning and development. You can seek the advice of peers and mentors. You can engage a coach. You can develop the habit of critiquing your performance.

Leadership development is different and the same

In one way, leadership development is changing because business is changing. It’s changing because we have new tools and knowledge to apply. But your development has always been your responsibility. It’s always DIY, even if you get help from the company.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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