Today’s best talent is not focused on finding one, life-long career, instead they want to be challenged, constantly learning, and are open to adopting new ways of working.
And they expect to see the same enthusiasm for upskilling from the team they work with.
For leaders, relying on previous experience and years in a job is no longer enough. We also cannot expect to be in the same career for the rest of our professional lives and must be nimble enough to pivot between skill sets quickly, as required.
In order to gain respect and be able to continue to effectively manage and coach staff, you must upskill yourself.
Identifying the tools to upskill
Previously we may have booked into a three-day course on a vast, all-encompassing topic in order to build on our capabilities. But there’s also been a dramatic change in the tools available to broaden our professional know how.
The areas of focus have become more specific, and the opportunities to tackle them, more frequent. This means it’s possible to fit development tasks into our working and personal lives, with little disruption to existing plans.
There are a number of ways to adopt an agile upskilling approach:
Whatever you can get your hands, ears and eyes on - books, articles, podcasts, webinars and TED Talks. Just make sure you are picking up and registering for as many short pieces of advice and guidance as you can. Many of these are free or available at very low cost.
- Read, watch and listen
This applies to both on and offline situations. Whether it be through the use of tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter, or through attendance at industry events or just catching up for a coffee, build a network of people around you to follow, engage with and learn from.
Allow others inside and outside the office, below and above you professionally, to share their learnings with you and vice versa. Be curious, ask questions and be generous with your own learnings. Incorporate self-reflection as a regular practice to understand what happened and why.
- Train and be trained
It can be very easy to become blinkered and focused the job you’re paid to do, forgetting that the skills you have could be put to good use in another environment. Take your experience and apply it in a voluntary setting and you’ll discover a whole new way of working and skills and as a result.
See and experience other countries for work and pleasure, it broadens your perspective and increases your knowledge of different geographical markets.
Pay it forward
As a leader, doing all this for yourself is great but sharing your experiences, acknowledging your own need to continually upskill and encouraging your team to do the same is even better. Allow people to also take the time they need to grow personally - encouraging them to make commitments to voluntary organisations, enabling overseas work and travel, and inviting them to join you in your networking endeavours can all help with this.
Be clever with the tools you suggest, organised with the time you allow and trust your team to balance their day-job with their upskilling commitments, and it doesn’t have to result in a huge professional development program investment.
Enabling and encouraging your team to join you on your upskilling journey will ultimately drive motivation, productivity and a more skilled and engaged team that delivers a better service to clients and a more interesting and engaged you.
I’ll be discussing this and other challenges faced by today’s leaders during a panel discussion at the upcoming Disclose. Discuss. Discover. event, focused on Leading in a Digital Age. You can register here to join us.
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