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How can you continue developing your leadership skills in a context of uncertainty?

Nov 20, 2020

I recently interviewed Manon Brouillette, former president of Videotron, who said that the more you progress in leadership roles, the more you become a HR manager. As president, 80% of her time was devoted to her role as a human resources manager. However, when becoming leaders, many of us  not trained for this role. We are often experts in our field, a high-performing individuals who takes charge of projects, who take initiatives, but someone trained in team management. Leadership requires skills such as fostering collaboration, mobilizing, giving feedback, managing performance and conflict, and developing talent, that make you successful in your leadership role. Such skills are even more so necessary in a context of crisis where teams need to be motivated and engaged. In today’s context, do you set the necessary conditions to develop these skills? What are these conditions? I'll share with you a few ideas to consider. 

Take charge of your growth

I have seen managers passive in their development, believe that they knew inherently how to manage. They beleived that  their “know-it-all" expert posture was enough to meet this new challenge. The traditional approach implies that reaching management position means having 'attained our destination’ and therefore, efforts to progress are neglected. The responsibility for developing in management is then passively relegated to the company, the boss or the HR department.

Leaders who take a fresh approach to leadership tend to proactively manage their success. They recognize the need to constantly update their skills. They also acknowledge that they are their own main and best tool. By committing themselves to take charge of their own development, their motivation is much greater. Such leaders  choose the tools or means that are adapted to them. By taking responsibility, they actively commit themselves to their progress and success. 

Having a  growth mindset

You may be familiar with the concept of "growth mindset" as developed by Carole Dweck. It suggests that most skills can be developed with focus, dedication, and effort. Leaders who have this growth mindset know that their knowledge, skills and talents are only starting points for what they can achieve and accomplish. This attitude towards developing creates an openness to learning and a humility that comes with the "learner" posture.

Leaders who develop this kind of mindset know that they can always grow to becoming better. They perceive the effort put into growth as a key to success in their role.

I realize the individuals I work with are examples of leaders with a growth mindset. They have a real desire to perpetually progress, to think differently, to question themselves, to be challenged (with good intentions, of course!) and to receive feedback. They are aware that every small step forward will create an impact for their teams and their organization.

A leader I recently coached told me, "it's not easy to look at what you're not doing so well. We all rather keep the focus on what you're good at naturally. But I realize how much it allows me to progress". Cultivating a growth mindset is demanding and requires us to step out of our comfort zone... 

Stepping out of your comfort zone

With regards to a conversation with an employee, the same coachee told me, "this is not the usual way I would approach the situation, I'm really stepping out of my comfort zone. And I can't wait to the results and impact".

It's so much easier to emulate our natural behaviors, within a certain comfort zone. However, it is not the right environment to progress and increase our impact.  When an intervention doesn't work with a colleague or employee, rather than simply giving up or blaming the other person, why not take the opportunity to try new alternatives?

We all have a different comfort zone. For some, stepping outside your comfort zone may mean asking for feedback, receiving feedback, being vulnerable, managing conflict, dealing with a disagreement with your boss, addressing performance issues... What makes you step out of your comfort zone? And how do you avoid falling into fear, insecurity or being defensive? 

Identify concrete ways for self-development

I invite you to consider which areas represent your greatest opportunities for growth and could increase your impact with your colleagues and employees?

Do not hesitate to ask your colleagues and employees for constructive and uncompromising feedback. It's always accessible, it's free and it can be so rich in identifying your blind spots to target avenues for growth.

And what tools can you give yourself? For some, it will be reading articles and books, for others, listening to podcasts or tedtalks, participating in conferences, masterminds, coaching, mentoring, a 360 assessment, following a training program, ... All methods are good, you just have to find the ones that suit you best and dedicate some time to it in your agenda. 

Finally, I invite you to utilize the current period of uncertainty and confinement to carve out some time for yourself. Take the opportunity to cultivate your growth mindset and to proactively think about your next steps to enhance your skills as a "human resources" manager. Hopefully this will help keep you inspired in these troubled times!

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