Being a Director in a company is a rewarding role; you will have spent many years gathering the skills, experience and knowledge needed for where you are right now. However, leadership can be an isolating position.
As one MD of a business shared with me recently,
“I love my business, I’ve built it but now it is time to move on. The problem is, there’s no-one I can confide in about my intention. Everyone looks to me to keep them going but who helps me?”
If you are the one expected to solve all the problems and the person who continually provides leadership, you need to find your own ways of continually refreshing, renewing, expanding and developing your knowledge. Friends, family, networks, peers they can all be helpful but they may not have the time or knowledge to help you delve deeply enough into the intricate detail of your business and your personal needs.
So how do you find inspiration and support? Who challenges your assumptions with enough gravitas to make you think differently? Where do you go to re-imagine your business and role? When do you set targets that go beyond functional matters like steady as she goes and into the realms of success, higher influence or outstanding achievement? What makes you apply the leadership knowledge you have gleaned effectively, consistently and rigorously?
Self-directed learning is something a Director can periodically initiate. If you are unsure as to how to start such reflection try the 5 questions outlined in this short post by Andrew Ramwell.
Even when we do ask good questions of ourselves we are still social beings and it is often WHO we communicate with on a personal level that creates space for significant change. For instance, membership bodies like the IoD give us access to peer networks and resources of likeminded individuals. Academia offers qualifications like MBAs to test our competencies. What we read can stimulate and expand our minds. Counsellors and psychologists can help us with our inner-most feelings. Peers can provide a benchmark to our progress. Mentors can guide us through a journey they have previously travelled. Trainers can share practical skills for our business. Business coaches can work with us to stay one step ahead of our challenges. There are probably too many options for us in modern times to always know what is best before we try.
I’ve found keeping my sources of support simple and focused works best. As I am the ‘boss’, no-one else is there to guide me so I must decide on what I think I need, why I should seek it and how it will be measured as useful (the RoI). Just last month I met with someone who had mentored me early in my career. It was fascinating to walk (in some delightful countryside) and talk as he tested my assumptions, actions and views. He also reminded me of where I had started and what changes he could see. I found in that conversation I was measuring my achievements of the past decade not in terms of business growth but in terms of the influence I have had on others and how well I have used my skills.
So, my final question to you as a leader in business is: Who do you want to help you define, find and maintain success?
Bernard is Director of a business consultancy called Know and Do Ltd. In Greater Manchester, he can help leaders access bespoke business coaching and training services on a fully funded basis.
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