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Tag Archives: workplace learning

Take charge of your professional development

Your professional development is something that you need to own and champion for yourself.  Sure, good leaders should offer their employees support and direction, setting clear goals and targets, giving regular feedback, and offering concrete tools and suggestions for future growth and development.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.  Usually citing lack of time and other resources, the one piece that tends to slip most often is advice and emphasis on continued learning and professional development.

It’s up to you to take the wheel of your professional development

So it’s worth remembering that while your immediate manager and organization can certainly support you by providing feedback, advice, tools and resources, you are the only one behind the wheel of your future.  It’s up to you to jump in the driver’s seat and start steering for yourself.  It was with this in mind that I wrote my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published yesterday morning.

Nine easy ways to take charge of your professional development

professional development

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B10.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2VhfJMb

So I’ve put forward my top nine ideas in this column.  But I’d love to know what specific actions you are taking to take control of your own continuing professional development.  Please share by commenting below.

Leadership literacy is essential; ignorance is unacceptable

leadership literacyLeaders have a responsibility to be literate.  And by the word “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.  Now that information is ubiquitous, available through our fingertips at the closest keyboard, twenty-four seven, there is no longer any reason to claim that you don’t know.  Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.  But real leadership literacy also requires critical thinking.  It is possible to tell the difference between genuine data and pseudo-science; between real facts and false news.  It requires however that you read beyond the headlines and evaluate the sources and the author.  It is possible to appreciate and comprehend the people you work with.  But that means that you need to make the effort and take the time to get to know them.  Leadership literacy is not only essential, it is completely achievable.

5 Rules of 21st Century Leadership Literacy

With this cautionary counsel in mind, here are five rules of 21st century leadership literacy that every leader should follow: Continue reading

What school teachers already know about employee training

classroomAs a leader, you recognize the value of investing in training for your employees.  A skilled workforce leads to improved performance and productivity, which means that your staff can do their jobs more effectively on a day-to-day basis.  When people understand their roles, they know how to achieve positive outcomes, and operate more productively.  When you equip your employees with the skills they need to embrace new techniques and procedures, you also maintain your competitiveness.  And when you invest in employee training, you positively impact employee morale and commitment, and eventually performance levels.  All of which means that you want your investment in employee training to not only be useful in the short-term but also last in the long-term!

What makes employee training effective?

So what does it take to make employee training effective?  What is it that ensures that your people are able to understand what is being taught AND influences them to take action?  The answer, not surprisingly, can be found in the education profession.  School teachers are well aware of the value of formative assessment tools to help students learn more effectively.  Essentially, formative assessment strategies are a range of procedures used by school teachers to progressively modify teaching and learning activities when working with students.  And these same tools can be just as powerful when it comes to employee training.  Here are four strategies that teachers use with school children that can be just as effective for leaders to use in the workplace with employees. Continue reading

Skills vs talent? Focus on skills

Last week I blogged about how one should hire for attitude, not skills.  My post prompted a few emails from readers, and it got me thinking not just about skills vs attitude, but about skills vs talent.  What exactly is the difference between attitude and talent?  For the definitive answer, I went to my dictionary.

Attitude vs talent

An attitude is a mental position, a feeling, or an emotion with regard to a fact or state.

A talent is a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.

So, an attitude is a state of mind, a talent is an aptitude, so innate or a natural ability which is inborn.

Last week, when I talked about skills vs attitude, I said that skills were teachable and attitude isn’t, and I still stand behind that statement.  When I compare talent to attitude though, talent, for the most part, is even more intrinsic than attitude.  At least a person can choose to change their attitude; but talents are there from birth and so while they can be honed and enhanced, they cannot be acquired over time.

Skills vs talent

skills vs talentSo it got me thinking about skills vs talent.  According to my definitions, skills are teachable, but talents aren’t.  Or wait a minute … are they?  A leader’s job is to effect change in people, by creating an environment in which people will choose to change.  If skills can be learned but talent is inherent, then as leaders, we should always assume that everything our employees are required to do are skills.  Because this assumption allows our employees to believe that the changed behaviour can be learned.  If we assume that the behaviours we desire are talents, then there is no room for people to learn.

This sounds circuitous, so let me explain why the skills vs talent notion is important.  Continue reading

Grow your mind and develop your abilities

Stephanie Staples is my professional colleague, a good friend, and a past guest blogger right here on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog.  And she also hosts Your Life Unlimited on CJOB 680 Radio AM, airing across Canada on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was very excited to be her guest on March 11 and 12.  We talked about strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, based on my best-selling book Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell?

Listen to the show!

You can listen to the archived radio show here – my segment starts at about 14.45 mark.  If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole interview, you can still read about 17 strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities at this same link.  These 17 strategies are selected from the 171 strategies that are listed in my book.

grow your mind

 

Well, I’d love to hear your thoughtsI’ve used this lobster metaphor for a long time to illustrate and emphasize the overarching leadership themes of growth, change, transition, seizing opportunity, and continuous learning,  This is  both in the book of course, as well as in my signature keynote of the same name.  But I’m always excited and interested to hear about how this metaphor resonates with you (or not!).  Please add your comments below.

Approach travel (and leadership) with an open-mind

TravelA couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a statement made by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, that was quoted by the valedictorian at my niece’s high school graduation. Since then I have been reading some more of Coehlo’s work, and one of his blog posts caught my attention, primarily because it illustrates, eloquently, something that I believe in passionately myself — that it’s critically important for a leader to have an open-mind and be accepting of continuous learning. Since we are presently in the throes of summer (at least those of us who live in the northern hemisphere) which often leads to thoughts of travel, it seems only appropriate to share Coelho’s article titled My top 9 travel tips. In summary, here they are: Continue reading

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers – the importance of continuous learning

LombardStreetAt my youngest niece’s high school convocation ceremonies earlier this week, the class valedictorian made a short speech to celebrate the group’s accomplishments and to encourage his classmates to further learn and challenge themselves. During his address, this quote by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, caught my attention.

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers

– Paulo Coelho

From the perspective of the graduation ceremonies, it was obviously directed at the young people in the room who were about to embark on their adult journeys and adventures. But it occurred to me that this piece of wisdom was just as applicable in the workplace, particularly in the context of continuous learning. Continue reading

If sharing information is so valuable … why do so few people do it?

SharingKnowledgeA couple of years ago, I wrote briefly on the blog (and a lengthier article) about Don Tapscott’s 2006 bestseller Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (The benefits of mass collaboration), and a recent event got me thinking once again about the value of sharing information. In the book, Tapscott tells the story of how in 2000, Goldcorp’s CEO Rob McEwen bucked the trend in the conservative and highly-secretive gold mining industry and shared the company’s proprietary data with the world. As a result, he gained access to some of the most talented minds on the planet, almost all of which were outside the boundaries of his organization, and transformed his struggling $100 million company into a $9 billion mega force. McEwen had the foresight to realize that by sharing some of his closely-guarded intellectual property, he could harness the power of collective genius and capability, and thus, take his company to the cutting edge of innovation and wealth creation.

It’s now 2015, so you would expect that legions of leaders everywhere would have been motivated by McEwen’s amazing success to embrace the open sharing of information and expertise, right? Not so! Continue reading

Step outside your comfort zone

LobsterResizedAs long-time readers of this blog know, I am a huge advocate of the importance of pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone as it is the only way to learn and grow, both as an individual as well as an organization.  Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? is the title of both my flagship keynote as well as my first book, and both are based on this very premise – in order to continue to grow and develop, you must be willing to step outside your existing boundaries and take calculated risks; to not do so means stagnation and eventual demise.

The challenge of course lies in developing the courage to take the leap, and in acquiring the skills and abilities to actually pull it off.  So here are three ideas to do exactly that:

  • Focus on what’s in it for you.  If you push yourself to network more, speak publicly, volunteer to spearhead a change initiative – how could that help you advance your career?  If there’s a clear personal payoff, it makes it easier to make the first move. Continue reading

It’s a leader’s job to actively promote lifelong learning

CGA0910-2013CoverThe ongoing skill development of your people is your responsibility.  Period.  There, I said it!

Yes, it may ultimately be the folks in training or HR who will design and deliver the learning programs that your staff need, but it is your job to create a positive learning culture in your company or department — a culture that supports and insists that learning continue over a lifetime. You can’t just pass it over to another department and then wash your hands of any responsibility! Delegation is appropriate, but abdication isn’t!  Continue reading