This is a good time of year to think about your development. Year-end performance reviews, New Year’s resolutions and for some the annual development plan will happen in the next few months.
Development should have three pillars: your technical skills, your personal growth and your engagement with the environment.
Technical skills: This is the most obvious. Keep your skills up to date with changes in technology and your profession. Take a course, subscribe to professional journals, go to a conference – all are good means of staying up to date.
Personal growth: Self-awareness is critical to advancing your career. One of the fatal flaws to a career is failing to learn from mistakes. Learning from mistakes requires willingness to look inside yourself and take action to increase your self-awareness. You can do this through 360 degree feedback, various assessment tools, seeking guidance of mentors, friends and other trusted advisors and of course, reading. I especially like to read leadership books by successful leaders and reflect on what parts of their experience are relevant to me.
Consider courses that address specific skills relevant to your needs such as leadership, communications, presentations, writing, etc.
Engagement with the environment: How connected are you to what is going on in the world? It’s easy to stay connected these days with technology. Expand your thinking and expand the breadth of your connections. Seek out those activities for learning that give you a broader perspective about your business, current issues or the world. I have tremendous appreciation for the experience I had leading a global organization. It provided both the opportunity to expand my cultural horizons and the catalyst for me to learn more.
Read a different periodical occasionally. I picked up Washington diplomatic magazine in an airport one time. Just reading a few articles that were way outside my norm triggered new ways of thinking and asking questions on a particular subject.
Attend events – those that are part of your community and occasionally something totally different. Years ago I tried a new leadership conference that I never before would have considered. It's now a part of my annual development plan.
Staying sharp and aware opens up possibilities in your thinking. You’ll also present yourself in a more positive way.
What will you focus on developing in the coming year?