Aug 01 2022| Leadership | leaders | Values

Self-awareness and continual personal development & growth

August Business Brief

by Kareena Hodgson Leaders Consultancy

Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does on a day-today basis to lead himself - Tom Watson, former IBM CEO. 

In order to lead others well, leaders first need to lead themselves. In Kareena’s latest article in Business Brief, she reflects on leaders she’s met who have worked incredibly hard to achieve their leadership roles: they have put in long hours, made personal family sacrifices, maintained focus and overcome countless challenges, and now they have finally arrived, they’ve made it, time to ease off and breathe again. Well maybe, but it’s more likely that you now recognise that the greatest responsibility of your career is just beginning. Now you are in that leadership role, be it CEO, chair, senior manager, team leader or similar, you have employees and colleagues who are looking to you to lead them and the organisation well.  

One of the key skills you will need to be able to lead yourself and others well is to be intentional about your continual personal development and growth. Why? 

There is a simple and brutal truth to this: if you are not growing as a leader you are not leading well, and you will quickly stagnate. This isn’t good news for you, your people or your business.  

As a senior leader, how do you find the time to invest in your continuous development? Here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Firstly, we recommend refraining from using the word busy. It often comes with negative connotations and quickly becomes the reason, or indeed the excuse, to not do important activities - like attending to our own learning and development. Try swapping out the word busy for active or actively engaged and notice the difference in tone and how you think about allocating your diary time. 
  2. Find yourself a great coach. Being a leader can be a lonely place to be, and employing an independent coach can give you a safe space to discuss the challenges and issues you are facing. A great coach will ask you brilliant questions to help you look at situations from a different perspective, challenge your mindset and increase your self-awareness, especially by identifying what you are bringing to the issue, both good and not so good.
  3. Schedule reflection time for yourself. This is not free time that can quickly and easily be filled by other pressing matters. This is an essential time and space for you to process what is happening. You can ask yourself very simple questions like ‘what’s working well?’, ‘what do I need to do differently?’ and ‘where do I need to grow or challenge myself?’ 
  4. Be brave - ask for feedback! Preferably from people who will tell you the truth! Don’t dismiss negative feedback too quickly. Give yourself time to think about it, and ask yourself the question ‘what can I learn from this interaction or feedback?’ You may not agree with it but there is likely something you can learn from it.  
  5. Find a great conference and choose one with the purpose of meeting people and building relationships, not just improving technical skills or knowledge. Ask yourself ‘who are the kind of people I need to be around to help me grow and develop?’ When you can answer that question, you are more likely to find an event or conference that will be the best use of your time. 
  6. Read a book, a relevant book. Even if you are not the most avid reader, find an author you find inspiring, and start there you can always check out their TED talk first. Get recommendations from colleagues and give yourself an annual target of how many books you want to read. 

None of these suggestions will just happen; as a leader, you will have to be intentional to make them happen. So choose one or two that appeal to you, be realistic, set yourself up for success then go and do them. 

About The Author | Kareena Hodgson

Having achieved a degree in Community and Youth Work, Kareena built her career in the third sector. She was head of Action for Children in Guernsey for over 10 years, working with a wide range of often challenging situations. Kareena is keenly committed to fostering systems and environments that enable people to flourish. This includes substantial experience in team building and leadership, engaging with multiple stakeholders and supporting individuals in creating healthier habits in work and life. The combination of her encouraging style, people-first mindset, creative thinking, aptitude for utilising insights from psychometric surveys and passion for healthy environments is an asset for any team in any sector.

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