The term “prerequisites” reminds us of those courses we took in our early days at college. The ones that our advisors shared were important building blocks to the courses in our major. The courses that we all dreaded because they were standing between us and the interesting ones. We may have reluctantly added those prerequisites to our schedules, but we later learned their value when we entered our upper-level courses and discovered that we had a better grasp of the material because of the courses we took earlier.
In our opinion, developing others works similarly. We want to master that skill set because we know it’s critical for leaders to develop other leaders, but we sometimes like to skip over the prerequisites. Today, we invite you to take a step back and reflect on whether you have the prerequisites that will lead to your success in developing those around you.
Am I Still Developing?
As leaders, we must develop ourselves before we can develop others. That statement seems simple, straightforward, and perhaps even unnecessary, but we start there because we’ve too often seen leaders take a “Do as I say and not as I do” approach to development. They speak eloquently about the importance of self-development and embed continuous learning goals in evaluation tools, but when asked what they are doing to develop themselves, they shuffle through a series of excuses for failing to invest in their own development. Predictably, their team members see through those explanations and mentally check out when those leaders try to take an active role in their development.
Am I Experienced in the Areas Others Want to Develop?
It’s difficult to teach someone what we don’t know. That doesn’t mean we have to be intuitive experts in every topic. Trial and error are a vital part of the learning process, and there’s something special about sharing the triumphs that were borne in initial failure. The key is that we shouldn’t over-reach when we’re seeking to develop others. It’s okay to say, “I’m not as good as this as I’d like to be, but here’s how I approach situations like this” or “That’s an area I struggle with too. Let’s talk about it and figure it out together.”
Am I More Than My Job?
Too often, we see leaders who are consumed by their jobs, tying their complete identity to that role. In our experience, that limits their ability to develop others because their conversations are too narrowly focused on work. Great mentors and coaches address the whole person. Their discussions go beyond professional development and touch on areas such as values and relationships because those areas shape the motivations and behaviors that individuals bring to our workplaces.
Action Step: Ask yourself each question above and answer “yes” or “no.” Which area do you need to work on starting today?