I see it all the time – yesterday’s “go-to problem-solver” gets complacent and over the years turns into “the problem!”
There is no such thing as organizational tenure! If you believe your current knowledge base is adequate to make it to retirement – you are woefully disillusioned.
I’ll go even farther – if you are one of those people who thinks “on the job training” is enough – you are wrong!
The pace of change in today’s world is remarkable. The competitive landscape gets tougher every quarter. The need for bright leaders who invest in themselves for continual learning and growth has never been higher. If you want to ensure you don’t get the “holiday pink slip’ some year – make your self indispensable!
Don’t believe me – do the math.
Many companies are back on track and growing. For the sake of our exercise – let’s say you work for a company that is growing at 8% a year.
“On the job training” is like a cost of living raise. It’s not enough to get ahead!
Cost of living raises are about 3% a year. If nothing else changes it can keep you even.
But wait – something has changed – your company is growing 5% more than you! How many years does it take, at 5% per year, for you to fall off the list of “A- players” and onto the list of C players? Not many…
Don’t let it happen to you! If your company is growing at 8% a year – I challenge you to grow at 10% a year! That’s right – I want you to confidently say on December 31st you are 10% “better,” “more effective,” or “more knowledgable” than you were on January 1st!
I know for most of you the thought of finding enough time to become 10% “better” year over year seems daunting at best – impossible at worst. I get it. I recommend you broaden your perspective on learning and increase your creativity with time.
Here are some suggestions to consistently grow as a leader:
- Go to lunch or dinner with someone who thinks completely different than you – stretch your paradigm and mental model while breaking bread.
- Listen to books during your commute. I love audible.com – it is great source of books and excellent use of your drive time.
- Sign up for leadership blogs or podcasts. While I’m partial to mine, check others out as well. I love Michael Hyatt and his perspectives on leadership and self-improvement.
- Take an on-line class during your lunch hour –itunes university has many for free.
- Seek a mentor. Some organizations have formal mentoring programs. If not, take the initiative to reach out and build a mentoring relationship.
- Ask for stretch assignments – see a role in something new and different.
- Look ahead in your career and proactively learn a skill you will need. For example, if you intend on being an executive – be sure you know how to read a balance sheet or a P&L statement. If you are just learning, check out the book The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting from the Lemonade Stand.
- Start your own “mastermind” group – find a small group of colleagues interested in leadership development and meet once a month to help each other grow and improve. Share best practices and give each other feedback.
- Schedule white space into your calendar every week. Protect it. Use it to work “on” your business/department/team as opposed to “in” it. Determine (and implement) improvements and changes above and beyond the daily fire fighting.
This is just a quick list to get you thinking. The challenge is to first commit to growing at 10% a year and then creating the road map for doing so.
Be relevant as a leader. Make a point to stay on the “A-Player/High-Potential” List.