My eldest son worked for my company after completing his bachelor’s degree and before completing his master’s degree. After his experience, I asked him if he intended to continue in the field of leadership development and he said no. I was a little surprised by his answer, so I asked him “why?” he answered firmly.
My son isn’t the only one who has observed a leader’s aversion to self-development. In his 360-degree evaluation, which I conducted of his 50,000+ leaders, we asked them to rank the importance of 16 differentiating abilities. At every level, these leaders named “personal development” last.
The practice of self-development is the gateway to any improvement and should not be neglected. Why do leaders avoid it? And why do they fail?
By analyzing and observing the leaders of the 90sth percentile and 10th I have discovered 6 reasons why people fail to develop themselves.
- they don’t know how to listen. An important skill for anyone wishing to develop their personal abilities is being an effective listener. Poor listeners end up working on issues they think are important, but may not be the most important areas. Good listening skills include being able to hear what the other person is saying, not just how they are feeling.
- They don’t accept other people’s ideas. Some people have negative initial reactions to suggestions and new ideas. They may believe their ideas are better, or they may be offended that others are too presumptuous to provide feedback. Whatever the cause, responding negatively to feedback discourages others from offering suggestions and ideas. This greatly shortens the self-development process.
- they are not honest with themselves. People who speak honestly and say what they believe are more likely to face facts about themselves. If people are not completely honest with others, they tend to be dishonest with themselves. Self-deception is the process of denying or justifying unacceptable facts. Facts demand changes in thinking and behavior. However, self-development only occurs when people are faced with the reality that they need to acquire new skills and knowledge.
- They don’t spend time developing others. Development is contagious. When leaders develop others, some of that development is affected. When leaders engage in self-development activities, it sends a strong signal that they believe and practice to develop others as well.
- They don’t take the initiative. Acquiring new knowledge, acquiring new skills, and changing habits requires initiative. Initiative always means expanding yourself beyond what is expected of or defined by your role. It means seeing something that’s trying to get through a crack and moving forward to solve it. The truth is that great talent is a function of practice and the search for opportunities.
Recently I was doing a workshop with a group of 20 leaders. The workshop was held in a conference room in an office building. At the beginning of the workshop, I asked: what would you do? ” It was unanimous. They all said, ‘We’re going back to work! It is clear that people believe that working in an organization is more important than personal growth. The problem is that there is compelling evidence that organizations benefit greatly when leaders improve their individual effectiveness. Great leaders result in lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, higher engagement, higher profitability, and higher sales.
We are all so busy that we fall into a very reactive mode. With hundreds of emails, heightened expectations, increased competition, unforeseen problems, and new stretches from his bosses to deal with, he has little time or energy to develop himself. If you carve out a small portion of your time and energy for your own personal growth, your organization will be better and you will be a more engaged employee. It improves the organization you work for and ultimately your life.
To learn more about feedback preferences, check out Zenger Folkman’s free evaluation here. For more information, register for my webinar on personal development. Please click here.