The Personal Aspect Of Professional Development

Leaders working together

What is personal development? How does it apply to us at work?

How do we measure it? What might others notice? How do our personal capacities affect the bottom line? What does it take for significant others to notice that we have developed our capacities?

To begin to answer these questions, I’ll make two distinctions – professional skills and abilities, and personal skills and abilities.

Professional skills include legal, financial, planning, marketing, medical, health, engineering, environmental, managing performance, organising workflow, social services skills and qualifications.

Your personal skills and abilities might include listening, leading effective meetings, developing trusted relationships, providing direction when there are diverse views, holding firm with push back on your ideas, speaking up when your view is different from others, having vision, providing direction, acting relevantly in volatile situations, and being curious when there are difficulties in groups or relationships.

How many times have each of us worked alongside someone who is an expert in their area, and gives trusted advice, however burns people with their acerbic wit, or their harsh criticisms and judgment. Might you be alienating people when you are under pressure, be indecisive, lose your inability to work with ambiguity, or become rigid in response to a range of competing forces and alienate bosses, staff, or peers?

The cost to businesses of leaders, who are unable or unwilling to work well with people, is substantial.

Personal grievances and time taken to sort through people problems takes focus away from leading people, delivering results, working with stakeholders, and implementing strategy. The toll on the emotional life in organisations negatively affects both culture and engagement.

Learning to listen, run productive meetings, empathise and provide direction, find a way forward amongst conflict and difficulties are essential abilities to work in organisations.

I recall early in my career as a young teacher, nothing in my training had prepared me for students coming to school hungry or beaten, or when one student stabbed another on the playground.

My teacher training had prepared me to create curriculum and teach lessons, however it did little to assist me function as a leader within the school with a 1000+ teenagers there. What helped were experienced teachers who mentored me, coached me, encouraged me and believed in me. I learned not to fear the students. I learned to be alongside, intervene, be pragmatic, find food, care, and listen.

What might personal development goals for leaders look like?

  • Staff find me approachable and helpful.
  • I am known to find ways forward with conflict and enhance positive working relationships amongst the players.
  • The meetings I lead are productive and worthwhile, we progress the business.
  • I can provide direction and next steps in groups where there are diverse views.

Leaders and staff with strong interpersonal and group skills contribute to producing positive working cultures.

What are your personal development goals for this year?

What personal capacity will assist you become a better leader? How might you develop this? Who will you invite to notice how you are going with this? How will your having this new capacity positively impact your relationships, and producing business results?

© Diana Jones

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