Are you a development snob?
Are you the type of person who will try to learn and grow from every opportunity or do you box your development off in particular environments, with certain people?
Let’s find out if we are a bit of a snob when it comes to our growth… Please answer the following questions:
Can Employees in less senior roles coach those people in more senior roles?
Mentors have to be people who are more senior?
The more senior you are the more capable you are at developing others?
When most people answer these questions the logical and intellectual response would be “of course it is possible to get personal development from less senior sources!”. Yet this rarely happens in business today…
Now before I carry on, it is important to address the people who believe we can’t get development from those in less senior positions… Let me be clear… A job role does not define that person’s worth. We are all individuals, with individual perspectives, views and opinions… which if investigated can be valuable and stimulate learning for anyone. If you honestly believe that a person’s worth is defined by role, please read on, you need this more than most!
Now on to part two of our test… Please answer the following…
When was the last time an employee in a less senior role coached you?
When was the last time you coached someone in a more senior role to you?
How many mentors do you have in less senior roles?
When most people answer these questions… we find the logical response, that it is right to seek development from various sources, doesn’t quite match our reality within our own personal development.
Why if we can learn from all around us, do we limit ourselves to those in more senior positions or those who are trained coaches to develop us? Do business structures restrict the opportunities for this to happen? Or is it our beliefs that stop us?
A good example of this is from early in my career… I worked for a manger that wasn’t particularly great with people. He set clear expectations of what was to be done, the exact steps to be taken and measured those steps meticulously… he didn’t set a vision, trust or challenge appropriately and wanted to become a better leader.
I could see this manager was frustrated with the engagement of his team, so I offered my expertise in a supportive way… this offer was refused, rejected and I was told “how could I help with something I couldn’t understand?”
I then got promoted into a role where development conversations with managers at his level were a part of the job… This same manager then had no issues at all discussing the challenges he faced… and together we developed effective strategies to support his growth into a leader. Over time and with support this individual developed into one of the most effective leaders I know and now is a COO of a very successful business (and we are still friends and we support each other with our leadership journeys!)
So I went from zero to personal development hero in 12 months, with very little change to my capability… the only tangible difference was the role I was in.
If that manager had utilised the capability within his own team, he could have developed and grown much sooner than he did…
What stopped this manager? The company he worked in? I suppose it could be seen as unusual to be developed by individuals within your team, but it seems unlikely this would be restricted.
Was it his belief system? Was the idea that someone “below” him could have the expertise to help? Would it make him weak as a senior person? If so, who would see him as weak?
In this particular case, it was the managers belief system rather than the company that stopped him… At the time he couldn’t see how someone with less experience could help him and he also thought it would show weakness if he accepted support…now let’s take a moment to think about you…
You see at the beginning of this post, it is likely you thought the idea of not be able to learn from those in less senior roles, to be ridiculous… “of course we can” the voice in your head said… Saying the opposite would sound silly…
So do you actively learn and seek development from all around you or just from those with the right job title? When I say seek development I don’t mean just ask for feedback… I mean seek development, coaching, training, mentoring etc…
For the 5% of us who said “yes”… Well done! Please shout about what you do, make a big deal about how we can develop and grow in a 360 degree way…
For the 95% of us who said “no”… Ask yourself “What is the worst that could happen if I asked for development from individuals in less senior roles?”
What you will find is in the worst case scenario, you don’t get any valuable learning… however you will have shown a level of trust, respect and vulnerability to an individual, who will automatically feel more connected to you and become a follower of you… not because they are told to, but because they want to.
That’s worst case…
Best case? You get a more connected follower of you PLUS you get some valuable learning, become a better leader, manager, person AND you have helped stretch the individual’s development too, by allowing them to work and support someone senior to them!
Be brave… Be vulnerable… Be a leader… Be a 360 degree development specialist! The rewards are fantastic and the risk… well… is just your ego…
Thank you for reading, commenting, liking, sharing, and for being open to learning strategies and behaviours that serve your personal growth and development.
We can all become the leaders and people of our dreams…
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