You’re time-poor, and interested in your progression, but how and when do you get the chance to manage your career and consciously, thoughtfully, develop the skills you believe you need for that brilliant future career?
Or, you’re time-poor, and interested in the progression of your team, but how and where do you find the time to help them manage their brilliant careers?
I can’t promise to magically find the time for you, but what I want to do is to pave the path to make it clearer as to what to spend your precious time on, whether it’s your career or the career of someone you care about. And perhaps also to remind you of how critical it is to do so.
The breakneck speed of work these days makes it harder to find the time to spend on your career and developing your skills, yet being buried under a continuing avalanche of expectations doesn’t get talented noticed or nurtured. This is one parapet you need to stick your head above.
Here, I’m focusing on one area, your Foundations. What should you focus your development efforts on, and how? What should you encourage your team members to develop?
There are three aspects of your Foundation to focus on: your professional identity, your transferable skills, and your leadership appetite and potential.
One must have first of all a solid foundation. Sri Aurobindo
The right investment in Foundation capabilities at the beginning helps increase promotability, as well as flexibility.
Your professional identity
Your values and your sense of who you are as a professional are critical. To help grow this, belong to your professional association and take on leadership roles within it. Take a look around at what others are doing with their careers, the sorts of roles they play. Listen to the stories they tell about themselves, the profession, and the opportunities that exist for others.
As you become more experienced, seek to mentor emerging professionals in your own organisation, across your network, or across your industry sector. ‘Teaching’ others is a fabulous way to keep learning.
Your transferable skills
Jobs might change over time, and with increasing seniority, but there are some skills that are critical to both success as you begin your career, and success across your career.
Transferable skills are just what they sound like – skills to take anywhere with you. No matter the restructuring, mergers and global crises we might get thrown at us, transferable skills are the ones that get us through. No matter the impact of machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics, there are some skills that it seems will endure. Here’s my take on the ones that matter:
Pick three to five of these, and make them a focus for you in the coming year. No matter your role, these will stand you in good stead.
Your leadership potential
Before anyone else will think about you as a leader, make sure you have developed your leadership foundations. According to the good folk at @Hogan, there are three leadership foundations: getting along, thinking broadly, and following process. Sounds about right doesn’t it?
Before you get to lead a team, you need to show that you are a team contributor, and you need to have a reputation for being productive and getting things done.
Although these things may seem quite different to what you need to lead at the top of the organisation, you’ll always be using them no matter your seniority, plus they’re important indicators that you’ve got what it takes.
The big question, if you have an appetite to lead, is whether or not anyone else thinks you can. You get to be considered leader-like by standing out, building connections with others, and ‘seeming’ influential.
Standing out is all about how you demonstrate your ability – intelligence, judgement and your expertise count here.
Building connections is most closely related to your likability. Do people choose to spend time with you? Your EQ and social skills count here.
Influencing others takes a level of comfort with power – are you prepared to take authority? You need to have a level of drive and ambition, an interest in setting the agenda and taking charge.
But not too much, of course! While power players and those who have too much drive and ambition seem to get a leadership guernsey far too easily – perhaps through their singular focus and self-believe – that doesn’t mean that actual leadership talent won’t shine through.
Leadership effectiveness is something that you demonstrate once you’ve gotten that promotion. To be effective means being able to lead others, to build and maintain high performing teams.
Effective leaders attract, retain and develop talented team members, they secure the resources the team needs, and they remove barriers to success. They achieve strategic business goals.
I hope that you have some role models in leadership positions who demonstrate just this set of capabilities. Spoiler alert! Not all of them do. Watch out for those who do, seek to emulate them, and let’s make leadership more satisfying for leaders, and for their teams!
Supporting the development of others
To support your team to develop their foundational capabilities, make the most of the 70% of learning that comes from on the job activities. Just because they’re working, doesn’t mean they’re learning. This is where small, targeted in-the-moment coaching comes into its own.
Creating learning accountabilities also helps. ‘I’d like to see you able to take on x in 3 months time’, ‘How much improvement would you like to make in the next 6 months?’ ‘What if you reduced the amount of time it takes to do [new] task?’
Find the right opportunities, ask rather than tell and review regularly.
Book a call with me today to find out more about my executive coaching and how my unique mix of challenge and support will allow you to grow at a much faster rate than you otherwise would.