Development, Leadership, Motivation, Planning

5 Questions That Lead Leaders

As a leader you spend a lot of time thinking about others and their professional development. But do you spend enough time thinking about yours? More specifically, do you spend enough time evaluating your current role and its contributions to your future self?

Last week I woke up and I wasn’t particularly interested in Chip and Grey. It was the first time in 3.5 months that I wasn’t interested in feeding the two squirrels, but it wasn’t the first or last time I would question if my current role was fulfilling my professional needs.

It’s easy to forget about your own goals when you’re managing a team with many goals of their own; goals that you will help them achieve. But if/when you wake up one morning and you’re not particularly interested in seeing said team members or you can’t remember the last time you discussed your career goals with someone, I encourage you to set some time aside for some personal and professional interrogation.

Here are 5 questions every leader should ask themselves on a regular basis: 

  1. What were my expectations when I took on this role? (Were they met or can they be met?) 
  2. Am I going to learn any knew skills in the next 12 months? 
  3. How do I feel about the field/industry? (Am I passionate about it?)
  4. Does the culture of the organization align with my values? 
  5. Is there room to move up or laterally within the organization? 

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Why should you ask these questions? Because part of being a great leader is being able to recognize when a role is no longer contributing to your own professional and personal goals. In a previous blog post I discussed how identifying a company’s limitations can change your approach to your team’s training and development, and it’s important to not forget about your own development in the process. The only thing harder than leading is leading without experience.

Take some time to interrogate your current role and ask yourself 5 potentially revealing questions. You may come to the conclusion that you’re happy where you are, or, you may realize that it’s time to take a different route. But one of the most important things you can do as a leader is keep a map in the glove compartment and keep an eye on your personal road. A leader without a map will eventually lead others in the wrong direction. 

– Brianna

Development, Leadership, Pro-Active Planning

Good leaders focus on the success of the company. Great leaders focus on the success of the industry.

Show of hands, who’s heard the famous argument “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers?” (Both of my hands are in the air!). If you ask me, this statement is tired and it’s not as accurate as it once was.

People leave terrible jobs and people leave great jobs. People leave crappy managers, and they leave inspiring ones. The reality is, people will leave and for numerous reasons. So, let’s take a break from focusing on why people leave an organization and take the time to focus on developing skills your team members can use when they leave the organization. Why should we do this? Because investing in a team that will branch out and work at multiple companies supports the growth of an industry.

Good leaders focus on the success of the company. Great leaders focus on the success of the industry.

In October I began to feed Chip both shelled and unshelled peanuts. My reason was two-fold: One, I felt that the roasted peanut buffet was lacking in variety (so, purely for my own entertainment) and two, because I knew that in 3 months Chip would be leaving for the winter.

20181126145802_001 Image: ©Brianna MacLellan

When it comes to training and development, try taking what I like to call the ‘double down’ approach. For every job specific skill you develop, double down and develop one additional industry skill. If we’re playing blackjack, you just split your cards and doubled your return. If we’re referring to commitment, you just doubled down and invested in the future of the company and the industry.

Job descriptions are designed to benefit the company and don’t always take the growth of an individual or an industry into consideration. It’s important for us as leaders to recognize that we, and the company we work for, have limitations and may not be able to foster an individual’s or team’s development for a long period of time. So in the anticipation of turnover, anticipate where your team members might go next.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What is the future of the industry?
  2. What skill sets do my team members have?
  3. What can my team members do with their skills in the future?

In order to answer these questions you will have to take the time to get to know your team members. Where did they grow up? What did they study in school? Do they have siblings? Hobbies? If your team member who works in the customer service department has a degree in Fine Art with a specialization in Integrated Media, would you be open to having them sit-in on the company’s next marketing/digital strategy meeting?

Doubling down will require effort, creativity, and disruption on your part. You may have to make a few phone calls, ask for a larger professional development budget, or leave at 5:20pm instead of 5:00pm because you took the time to look at Bob’s vacation photos. But take the time to get to know your team’s passions, interrogate the future of the industry, and double down. Put a pile of shelled and unshelled peanuts on the table and support your team member’s future – even if it’s a future you won’t be a part of.

Everyone will walk away from the table with something regardless of if, when, or why they leave it. But are you willing to double down and invest in the industry?