I’m going to rant a little
l talk to people all the time who are sitting around waiting for their company to “do something” about their development. They know that they are talented (and for the most part, the company agrees), they know that they are “hi po” (high potential–recognized by the company as having potential to move up), and they know that they do a good job. So, why doesn’t the company send them to Executive Development programs, or provide them with developmental opportunities, or generally take an interest and develop them?
There are all kinds of reasons
Maybe the company doesn’t have a well-developed Executive Development system. Maybe the company doesn’t classify these people as “hi po” enough. (Lots of companies, maybe most companies, take the view that only the most “hi po” gets developed). When I ran an Executive Development Program for a company, I found that the “hi po”s who were selected by the ‘deciders’ were all over the place. Potential is in the eye of the beholder. You may not fit the profile for hi potential for the person in YOUR management chain who makes the decision. The company may be trying to develop a certain skill (like innovation) at this time and are picking people who they think have the most potential in that area. Someone up there may not like you. There are all kinds of reasons why it is not you, not this year, not at this company.
So why am I going to rant? Because I think it’s totally nuts for ANYONE to sit around and wait for your company to develop YOU. Who cares more about your career and your abilities more than you? Who wants you to succeed than you? How long will you stay at THIS company? They will develop you for their organizational profile and needs. Will that make you a fully rounded Executive candidate? Maybe, but probably not. What one organization believes are the key attributes of leadership is another organization’s rejection list.
Get Off Your Butt and Develop You
Most well run organizations have well thought out Executive Development plans and programs (just because it doesn’t focus on you doesn’t mean that there isn’t a plan). These programs look at what the organization needs, what it has, and puts in place a plan to hire or develop the necessary skills to take the organization to the next level. You can do the same thing, with you, and only you, as the hi po being developed. (this applies to you hi pos who are already “being developed” by your organization—make if faster, or develop skills that are outside the organization’s focus that you know you need). If you do this right, it could have more impact than an MBA (although it is possible that an MBA is a necessary part of your personal development plan).
After years of helping organizations develop Executive Development programs and of coaching all kinds of individuals, I’ve come up with an outline of what needs to be addressed in Do-It-Yourself Executive Development.
DIY Executive Development
I know the print on the diagram is too small to read, but I wanted you to see how it all fit together. There are four areas of developmental concentration: 1) Know Yourself, 2) Understand Your Environment, 3) Personal Change Tools and 4) Skill Building. You can start anywhere—they all support each other.
The Recipe for DIY Executive Development:
Know Yourself–Understand Your:
- Beliefs About How Things Work
- Flaws (aka Derailers)
Understand Your Environment:
- What is the Culture?
- What is Your Fit in that Culture?
- What is the Power Structure?
- What Gets Rewarded?
- What is the Organization Life Cycle Stage?
Personal Change Tools–Understand:
- Execution Skills
- Financial Acumen
- Organization Assessment
- Organizational Political Saavy
- Personal Brand Management
- Emotional Intelligence
- Organizational Change Management
The well-rounded, and highly successful Executive has all of these. No one is born with all of them; they need to be developed. If you want to be a successful Executive, stop waiting for your organization to do it. Get off your butt and start working on developing yourself. You’ll do a much better job than any organization if you focus on it.