Evolving you, evolving leaders and evolving the team, evolving the strategy, feedback
“When you can truly understand how others experience your behavior, without defending or judging, you then have the ability to produce a breakthrough in your leadership and team. Everything starts with your self-awareness. You cannot take charge without taking accountability, and you cannot take accountability without understanding how you avoid it.”
— Loretta Malandro, Fearless Leadership
I once worked in a place where the vast majority of managers/leaders did very little to nothing to grow their skills with the exception of doing their daily job. There was no 360 Appraisal system, the performance reviews were annual. There was no book club, no formal training, no on-boarding, it was expected you would cope. People were leaving who just were not being given the feedback they needed and than no coaching – it was like leaders expected people to read minds – I am not sure telepathy is a thing but I have see a lot of ineffective cultures expect it. These cultures often expect implicitly that everyone understands what everyone else expects. This is often caused by bad male leadership.
Without a doubt on the job experience is a part of our learning and you are responsible for your evolution. That said in organizations that do not really embolden learning in all aspects of leadership will often have problematic cultures. As a Leader of leaders you are responsible for encourage your people and others to aggressively learn and share, what you have learned.
If you have a primary capability you are employed to do, how do you know its improving? What are you actively doing to improve yourself?
I would suggest starting with two paths, how to bring my general game up (Growing Stronger) and how do I build for my next full on evolution (Strategic Growth).
The first might focus on your areas of development, weakness, unknowns that you do need to learn. Maybe you get this from a performance review, or a coach or a mentor or through other feedback. Find a book, a blog, a podcast that covers that key topic. Maybe its receiving feedback better – Read Thanks for the Feedback – create a checklist, put on your phone and just before you know you are going to receive feedback read those notes or summary. Phillippa Lally and her researchers found changing behavior on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact with you taking the “better route” before it sinks in. The researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process. Also do not take this journey alone confide in someone who can help make you accountable.
Becoming your 2.0, maybe you pull a job description for the level you want to work towards, say you are missing Finance Experience? Maybe take a course at a local college or University, or you find someone who is willing to teach you. Maybe you take time to process information and you need to be faster, take an Improv course? Find a mentor who is doing that job already.
The power of writing and sharing
It is hard for a human to hold large amounts of information and actively use it in every context. Something that will help is writing, or teaching others about what you have learned. It will force (well hopefully) you to condense your learning, and understand the wider forces in action. This is also helpful for those who are more tactically driven start developing strategic awareness.
Places to learn from
On the Job
- Doing the job
- Weekly Retros
- One to Ones
- Performance Reviews
- Reading Books/Podcast/Videos
- Book Club
- Confrence – either Sector or Skills based
- Peers coffee/drinks/networking
Thoughtful Creation Learning
- Creation/Sharing – Colleagues/Conferences/Blogs
- Mentoring others – Volunteering at Startups Hub or local school
- Coaching Others – Volunteering at Startups Hub or local school
- Editing books/articles of other creators
Learning in leadership has to be one of your core and aggressive skills. You cannot afford to stop, or even pause. Even in a crisis or in a fire situation pay attention to what you needed to know and what you needed to know deeper. Find time later to understand and learn from it.
If you stop evolving you will stagnate.
“People can have two different mindsets, she says. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe that their talents and abilities are carved in stone. Those with a “growth mindset” believe that their talents and abilities can be developed. Fixed mindsets see every encounter as a test of their worthiness. Growth mindsets see the same encounters as opportunities to improve.”
― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Thoughts for Learning
- What is your learning plan?
- Who is coaching you?
- Who is mentoring you?
- Are you in a book club with other leaders?
- What skills are you going to upgrade this quarter? How?
- What is your learning style?
- How do actively improve yourself?
- Do your one to ones focus on operational and fires, how often do you talk about the big picture and how you fit in? How often do you talk about your career?
- What skills are degrading as you no longer use them? Will you be able to get through a round of interviews in your careers?
“One of the things that limits our learning is our belief that we already know something.”
— L. David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!
Resources for Learning:
- Book -> Pragmatic Thinking & Learning
- Blog -> Learning Styles (Kolb)
- Wiki -> Neuro-linguistic programming
- Magazine -> Harvard Business Review
- Blog -> Your Strategy Should Be a Hypothesis You Constantly Adjust
- Book -> Thanks for the Feedback