Being a model of leadership development

business man looking through binocular lens use for business strategy , and way to successMany leaders are generous with encouragement and budgetary resources to help their organizations’ leaders learn and grow. Far fewer are investing in their own development.

Those of us who work in the arena of leadership development see it all the time: the leader at the top of the organization encourages (or mandates) others throughout the organization to be coached, workshop(ed) or trained, but we don’t see the top leader doing the same for themselves.

If you’re one of those top leaders who encourages others to develop, but you don’t model your own self-development, how invested do you think others will be in taking what they’re learning to heart?

They are watching for the importance you place on development. One big way to show that is to work on yourself and let others know it.

There’s always something to learn, even if you’re the top dog. So model your own development and:

Do it. I know how busy you are, but so are all of those wonderful people who are working on their own development in your organization. Talk to your Talent Development folks and find out what the learning opportunities might be available within your own organization. It’s a great way to be seen learning and others will spread the word when you do. If your organization doesn’t have something for you, ask peers, HR or Talent Management to help you find some leadership development options off-site. Or hire a coach who can get you started with a 360 and some other assessment tools that will help you figure out what you can get better at.

Tell it. Spread the word that you are investing in yourself; let organizational leaders know exactly what you’re doing and why you chose the development opportunity that you did. Let know what you are learning about yourself and your organization and how you’ll put your development to use. Ask them to hold you accountable for any changes you’ll be making and request feedback from them on what they’re noticing in terms of any changes they see in your leadership. Be humble. Be vulnerable. They want to hear that you are trying to become a better leader and human being, just like they are.

Show it. The scary part about all of this is that people will expect to see the difference your development investment is making. You darn well better be able to do some things differently and for those to be obvious enough that that others notice too. They’re watching for the things you’ve said you’re working on to make a difference in the way you lead. How will you know if they see anything different? Ask them, or have someone else (your coach, your HR business partner) ask them.

You can’t expect others to take their own development to heart if you don’t do so. Be a model by investing in your own development, and go a step further: tell your organization what you’re doing and why, let them know what you’re learning and then show them how you’re putting it to use.

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.