We all have a comfort zone that as the term suggests, we feel comfortable in, but the thing about a comfort zone is that it can very quickly become claustrophobic if you never step out into the sometimes-scary place commonly referred to as the ‘LEARNING ZONE’.
As human beings, we get used to certain ways of doing things and we feel comfortable in a certain area of expertise, a particular skill set, being known for certain skills, and being the ‘go-to’ person for an area within the comfort zone. It’s very common for individuals in business to get to a certain spot and then just stay there.
There are a couple of issues that can cause this. When you are a Grad or a junior, you’re expected to know very little and you are expected to be a sponge for learning. Grads are expected to be enthused and inspired by learning new skills in their career of choice.
Grads are expected to make mistakes and to need lots of help. In many companies, Grads are expected to bring new light to old ways of doing things. This is a good thing, and companies that don’t encourage this really need to look at their culture if it’s not occurring. Grads are the fresh eyes a lot of the time.
As individuals progress in their careers, their ‘bows become heavier with more strings being added’, this in-turn leads to greater expectations on their time.
An individual reaches management level and they are desperately trying to keep up with billable work and the skills that they learned when they decided to become whatever their chosen specialisation is, but they also need to manage groups of people, run a business, and be strategic.
The issue is that unless a person is consciously aware of and dedicated to their own craft and the progression of the array of skills needed, they will tend to reach a ceiling of skill level and get bogged down in just getting through each day only to commence the next day with a pile of work to do.
We become stuck in what we know and feel that knowing anymore would overwhelm us. We become scared to take on new skills because ‘who are we then?’
There are three (3) points here that are critical:
- To be a leader and to take on a senior role in a company, is to know that it’s ok, and in fact essential, to still want to focus on your individual skills set.
- To be a leader is also to know that you will have to learn new skills that will at times feel very foreign and uncomfortable.
- To be a leader is knowing, accepting and embracing that others will surpass you in some areas of skill.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
1. By having career development, training and a genuine desire to learn new skills, you are sending a clear message to individuals and directly impacting the culture of a business. The most successful companies are the ones that grow, learn more than others and are willing to swap the old for the new if and when there is a better way.
It’s also essential to overall satisfaction in the workplace for its leaders to feel that they are making a difference and growing in their own job roles. We see directors and managers leaving themselves out of this area all the time. (More on this in point 2). It’s ok to want progress and your own success and growth, it’s imperative for you to have this so that you can inspire others.
2. It’s necessary for leaders and managers to actively take on the responsibility of learning the skills associated with this area of their careers. Some of these skills can be challenging and confronting but learning to lead is essential to be able to tackle this skill and really make a difference. It’s ok not to be an expert in all areas. It’s ok to need coaching and help, we all do.
3. We see many leaders who are scared to have people working with them and in fact FOR them who are better than they are in certain skills areas. THIS IS ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS. I cannot reiterate this enough. If individuals want to move and progress, someone (preferably better than them), needs to take up the reins of the old role. In order to have something new, there needs to be room. Make some room by giving away something else.
Take the time to assess what makes you smile and keeps you inspired. Assess what you love to do and own this. Assess what you don’t love and find others who will love that. Look at what you’re not good at and find others who are able to teach you OR to do it for you.
This is where the true success comes from. This is where you can truly progress and watch others do the same.
As always, remember, ‘Energy equals outcome, so make sure that you are focusing on the right things’.
For HR that really makes a difference to your company and your people. Call us at Vouch for a chat, we’re here to help you.