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May - 2011 - issue > Management

There’s no Time to Develop Your Leader

Dave Millner
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Dave Millner
I often hear that managers just don’t have time for leadership development. They are either too busy dealing with an employee performance issue, getting ready for a new business critical project, negotiating a new deal with a supplier, changing the budget figures for the fifth time or getting ready for a visit from head office. Once they have finished that and things settle down, only then will they have time to focus on their own development or the development of their managers. By which time of course the next crisis will have hit their desk!

Actually, all of these high pressure, job related activities are part of an overall leadership development process though. Every new project, key interaction with another person or job change all has the potential to be developmental opportunities for leaders. As managers, we’re developing ourselves and others all the time - we just don’t recognise it! I appreciate that this sounds pretty haphazard and unfocused but nevertheless these are all situations in which we can all collectively learn a lot of lessons, and coach others on how to get through the situation. They just might not be the right ones for you!

So if we already have a leadership development system – wouldn’t it be worth our while to leverage this enormous cost? It’s not a matter of making an additional investment in leadership development – or adding more hours to our week – the investment has already been made – it’s a cost that is continually written off when it doesn’t need to be!

For your own development, the key is being able to understand what you need to develop and proactively putting yourself in situations where you can be exposed to situations that will help you to learn those new capabilities – it’s called self awareness and is one of the key building blocks for any successful leader. You probably tend to seek out those opportunities that you know more about, then you watch, listen, and take it all in. If you take the time to reflect on what you’ve learned and figure out the right lessons to adopt, you can be developing yourself almost every week without really trying! Successful leaders are always looking for new opportunities to stretch themselves and learn; they will inevitably not be afraid to ask a lot of questions, they aren’t intimidated by someone that knows more about something than they do, and they are constantly adapting their approach.

For developing others, you can be more structured in how you delegate, how you select and build a project team, who you spend time with during site visits and how you get other people in your team to communicate issues or run particular sessions on a topic. Remember that when one of your employees makes a mistake, it’s a development opportunity and likewise when one of your employees comes to you with a problem and are seeking your help and input, it’s a development opportunity.

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