Is the Juice Really Worth the Squeeze?

Once we’ve accepted the reality that ongoing professional development is actually critical to being successful in each new challenge we take on as well as maintaining success in even our current role, and we create clarity around what we need our professional development process to look like, we need to make sure we’re taking advantage of the resources that will serve us best as we chase our goals.

Following strong examples is a great start, and finding the right people to mentor us along the way plays a key role too, but we’ll still need to make sure we’re taking advantage of every other resource we can get our hands on if we truly want to separate ourselves from the pack! So how can we determine which resources will give us the most value? How can we make sure the juice really is worth the squeeze?

The sky's the limit for what we can accomplish, but the one restriction we all have in common is the number of hours we have access to in our day. And...

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Who Keeps You In Line?

That’s an interesting question, huh… Who keeps you in line? If you know me well, you know at least one person who’s done that for me over the last twenty-plus years has been my darling bride! And that’s often been more than a full time job for her… But thankfully, she hasn’t had to do it all on her own the entire time.

In the last post, I shared how important I believe it is for each of us to identify the people around us who can serve as living, breathing professional development examples that we can study to make our own journey smoother and more effective. And while that certainly provides us with a solid starting point as we move into each new role throughout our career progression, simply observing and asking a question here and there won’t likely always be enough to help us really separate ourselves from the masses. That’s where the value of strong mentorship comes into play; more specifically, having access to people who are...

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Professional Development Examples

Leading up to this point, we’ve looked at several answers to Why is Professional Development Important? and we’ve worked through several key things we each need to consider as we set our Professional Development Goals. While that should serve as a reasonable foundation that we can build on as we’re intentional about growing professionally, there’s no reason we should feel like we’re alone in the process! Having strong examples to follow can help the process go much more smoothly…

Let’s face it, no two people will follow the exact same journey when it comes to their professional development. We all have different experiences we’re building on and it’s extremely rare for any of us to have the same long term goals - especially when we’ve invested the time and energy necessary to gain the kind of specificity my friend challenged me to get. But regardless of where we’re coming from or where we’re heading,...

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The Single Most Important Ingredient

I truly believe that one of the most essential qualities of leadership is serving the team we’re leading. Unfortunately, the idea of serving those team members is often mistaken for catering to those team members, which doesn’t serve anyone!

As we worked through that quality of service in the last post, I closed by sharing that some of the most effective servant leaders I’ve ever known weren’t willing to accept mediocre performance; they certainly certainly weren’t ones who catered to each passing whim any of the team members came up with. In fact, the leaders I’m picturing as I share this had some of the highest expectations for their team of anyone I’ve ever been around. And because they led by providing a consistent example, their teams delivered on those expectations!

Here’s where I need to stress a critical point… Those expectations weren’t met simply because the leader demanded that level of performance. Those...

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Clear Goals and an Expectation for Action

I closed the last post by referencing something we can do to help remove a bit of the reluctance leaders often face when faced with addressing tough situations with team members - often due to the concern of hurting or offending them in some way. Separating a behavior contributing to an issue that needs addressed from the individual performing that behavior is far easier said than done! But as we begin to develop that kind of awareness, and really hone our skill in actually doing it, holding the team member accountable for the behaviors they choose involves so much less emotional stress…

So what does that have to do with why leadership training fails? Understanding what should be done and knowing what the specific behavior looks like to accomplish what needs to be done are very different things. Just like we, as leaders, will need to work at being able to separate the behavior from the individual in order to have effective conversations about improving performance,...

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Knowing is the Easy Part. It’s the Doing that’s Tough!

In his Forbes article, Peter Bregman commented “I’ve never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. In fact, I can’t remember ever meeting a leader who didn’t know enough about leadership.” But knowing and doing are two very different things, huh…?

During the dozen or so years I oversaw a behavior-based safety process for my home facility and traveled across North America training folks on that process in other facilities, one of my responsibilities was to attend an annual conference on the topic so I could learn about new developments in the field while bench-marking with my peers from other companies around the world. I always left that three day event with pages of notes and dozens of business cards for people I could connect with moving forward to bounce ideas around. The challenge was always in having time to ensure the rubber met the road… Between the travel/training schedule and the full time...

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Accountable for Results

Once we’ve been intentional about defining leadership development, our work should be done! Right?

Before you fall completely out of your chair, laughing at that ridiculous statement, I’ll challenge you to show anything of significance that’s truly that simple… If we want to achieve significant results, especially the tangible results that make a measurable impact on our organization’s bottom line, we’ll have to be sure to see it through - not just issue a statement and call it done…

For close to 15 years, I worked for a Human Resource Manager who was always very vocal about what he expected from me anytime I attended any type of class or conference. I was required to report back to him, and often the entire management team, showing I had learned and what steps I would be implementing in the process I led. I was also responsible for seeing this through and for showing a tangible return on the investment that had been made for me to attend...

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I Am Responsible!

Let’s dive right in where we left off in the last post with an experience I had recently while helping my mom with something. We had attempted to use an online service to fill a very specific need that should have been fairly simple. We took the necessary hour or so to work through the questionnaire tool on the company’s website and received a message that we’d be receiving the legal documents we needed within a few hours. Simple enough…

Except it wasn’t!

In reviewing the documents, almost none of the details we provided were included. For that matter, the title of what we received didn’t even resemble the selection we made when we started the online process. I submitted a help ticket clarifying what we were looking for and received a response from what seemed to be a real person almost immediately outlining the exact step necessary to get what we were looking for. The only problem was that those were the same steps we had taken on our own to...

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Who’s to Blame?

While I know the same thing can’t be said for everyone on the planet, those of us who are blessed to live in the United States have very few reasons for pointing a finger at someone or something as the cause of our limitations or failures. Not only do I believe that we have some of the most amazing opportunities on the planet, I also believe that the resources we have direct access to - many at no cost whatsoever - are second to none!

Let’s pretend for just a few minutes that what I’m fairly accurate in this assumption… How many people do you personally know who absolutely refuse to take advantage of the tools that are almost always at their fingertips in order to drive positive improvement in their personal or professional situation and constantly point a finger of blame for their lot in life?

Please don’t respond to this with their names! That’s not my goal here… I just wanted to get you thinking. That said, I do genuinely appreciate the...

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It’s Not My Fault!?

Be it a job we didn’t get, a performance issue in our department, or we just busted our tail on a patch of ice in the parking lot, a fairly natural inclination is to look for someone we can assign the blame to. And in many cases, we’ve even built fancy processes to guide us in doing just that; 5 Why, Root Cause Analysis, 6 Sigma just to name a few…

Oh, I know… The real intent behind each of those problem-solving tools is actually identifying breakdowns within a system in order to prevent recurrence and produce better results moving forward. But is that what typically happens? 

And this issue certainly isn’t limited to corporate cultures, the barrage of personal injury attorney commercials on the afternoon TV we play to keep our dogs from barking at every single noise in the universe drives that point home daily! Nearly everywhere we turn, something in society points a proverbial finger of blame… This has become such a common issue that...

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