From Being Reactive to Having Initiative: Owning Your Leadership Development

The workplace is changing, and you should too. New technologies have made some skills (and even entire positions) irrelevant. Industry disruptions have forced even veterans to rethink their strategies. Even the dream of “climbing the corporate ladder” is dead: multinationals are breaking down hierarchies and structuring themselves around small, multi-functional teams. That’s a whole new way of working. You’re no longer defined by a job description or the department you belong to, nor shielded by a boss who takes command responsibility – usually, you’re given a goal and told to work with different kinds of people to deliver in whatever way you see fit.  

The good news is that you can make more decisions. The bad news is you need to make more decisions. And that can be scary, when you feel (just like everyone else) that the rules are changing and you don’t have enough facts or experience.

Employees are frustrated by lack of training

“Navigating this terrain requires a workforce that can adapt to changing environments and acquire the skills necessary to be successful in the future. And that’s where we are falling short. In the surveys of the U.S. workforce that are conducted at the American Psychological Association, training and development consistently emerge as the areas employees are least satisfied with. There is lack of opportunity for growth, and advancement is second only to low pay as a source of work stress,” says the Harvard Business Review. Their study found:

  • Only 15% say they’re being trained in technical skills
  • Only 20% say they’re being trained in soft skills, like teamwork and communication
  • Only 8% say they’re being trained in leadership and management skills

So if you feel unprepared and unsupported, you’re not alone. But when you think about it, the changes that are throwing you into a spin can also propel your growth. It’s all about the way you see yourself.   

See yourself as a student  

Don’t wait to be trained; instead, commit to learn. There are teachers everywhere. Talk to people from other disciplines so you can see a problem from several angles. Analyze what your competitors are doing and what you can do better or even completely differently. Sign up for international conferences which offer video streaming and follow the podcasts and social media accounts of industry pioneers. Buy books, read industry reports – you may get more information from them than any seminar that your company can provide.

See yourself as an innovator  

The age of disruption means nobody has the answers – everyone is learning to together and trying new things. You need to be comfortable with taking smart risks. Once you’ve gathered enough data, consulted with different people and presented the pros and cons to your team, there’s no other way to learn than to actually do it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, get feedback and try another approach.

See yourself as a dot

Forbes says your success depends less on your skills, experience or even your connections. It’s about “finding your workplace dot”.

“Your workplace dot is not your job title, description or responsibilities.  It’s something much more. Your workplace dot is being aware of where you fit within the culture and the most critical function you play within your organization.  It’s about the areas you can best influence directly or indirectly and having the courage to enable your influence every day. Your workplace dot changes as the culture changes and new leaders enter into the fold.”

If you adapt this way of thinking -- knowing your strengths and weaknesses, aligning yourself with people who can complement your unique skill set so you can better work together than you could ever do alone, understanding what your company needs from you at this time and  redefining your job around that – then you maximize your impact. You succeed, not just because you’re good, but because you know where you can do good.

See yourself as a Mentor

When everyone is a student, everyone is a teacher. You learn as much from your colleagues and subordinates as you do from a book, and they can learn from you too. The important thing is to create a relationship of collaboration and productive feedback: “we’re not just working together, we’re growing together.”

Unfortunately, many team conversations either revolve around either work or complaining about work. We won’t judge – it’s part of psychological safety and bonding to know you can vent about a bad day to your co-worker. However, when was the last time you sat down with your colleague and asked, “Hey, remember that last presentation? What do you think I could’ve done better?” Or told someone, “I think the idea you shared at the meeting was brilliant! You’re so attuned to the customer. I’d really love to learn from you.”

“Grow encourages collaboration,” Rudi Ramin, Grow CEO, says. “Our platform supports the sharing of ideas and best practices, which helps makes team members learn from each other.”

Making the shift from passively waiting for opportunities for improvement to “seizing the day” and taking their development into their own hands is crucial to today’s workforce. It allows them to continuously grow and update their knowledge and skills. Grow provides teams with solutions to get to know and understand themselves fully, set goals and track them, and create an environment of continuous growth and learning.”

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Grow has launched a beta version of its online leadership platform, and we’re excited for you to check it out! Please click the button below to try for free.