We want to learn. We need to be current. We sure could use some good advice. With high demands to meet our competition in every area of business — sales, R&D, staffing, production, etc., how do we, as leaders, most effectively continue in our own professional development? This issue, we asked leaders, “How do you maintain your own professional growth?”
“Our internal and external environments are changing so rapidly that professional development must be imbedded in all aspects of our work. As leaders it is our responsibility to create learning environments within our organizations for all staff. How do you foster a culture of professional learning, growth and leadership in the face of chaos and transformation? I maintain my own professional growth by recognizing and creating opportunities for leadership for my staff and organization. Professional growth is about finding new ways to challenge myself to be a more effective leader.” Bryce Maretzki, Allegheny County Family Support Policy Board, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development
“My personal growth strategies are as follows: (1)To conduct myself with integrity and professionalism at all times encompassing honesty, sincerity and trustworthiness, (2) to work as a team leader to provide the best services to our clients while maintaining objectivity and flexibility with the team members so that their personal life objectives are also met, and (3) to work in an open and diverse environment where mutual respect and trust is shared among the team. Leadership means recognizing the issues, inviting others to offer their points of view, knowing when to raise difficult questions and making informed decisions.” Francine Abraham, Ernst & Young
“In the field of human services, it is important to keep up with studies, both academic and practical, that focus on effective delivery strategies and changing needs/conditions of those we serve. I do this through internet search engines and reading various research summaries posted by a variety of professional welfare organizations in Washington, D.C. It is equally important for me to see and hear first hand what is going on in the communities around the country. I stay in touch with various human service officials at the state and local levels, try to visit new sites every year, and attend various professional conferences that feature presentations by local service providers. With all this, I still feel like there is always so much more to learn and know.” Glenn Kamber, National Association for State Community Services Programs, Reston, VA
“In today’s competitive market it is more important than ever to have a professional growth strategy and to find the time to devote to professional development. Continuously enhancing your skills and business contacts allows you to increase your value to the company you are working for and makes you better prepared in case of job elimination. Business networking is an excellent approach to professional growth. Networking allows you help to grow your organization and increase your personal contacts, as well as increasing your awareness of current business issues.” Bill Wolfe, The Callos Companies
“Professional development is viewed as a natural part of working and living as a career administrator. Currently, my professional development is focused on three areas of interest: my industry—higher education, my area of professional responsibility—management and leadership, and technology. Through a blending of enrolling in formal classes; quick readings of on-line materials such as the ASTD publication: The Buzz: Training News form Around the World; attending workshops and conferences; reading books such as Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? and Carol Gallagher’s Going to the Top; and periodically participating in teleconferences, I feel I can remain current while meeting my personal and professional obligations.” Mary Francis Archey, Community College of Allegheny County
“One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is making time for professional development. I recommend treating your professional development time just as you treat client time. They are both sacred. It’s important to choose experiences that help you and your business grow. Professional development is renewing and since I am in the renewal business, I attend at least two major professional development activities a year. The National Speakers Association Convention and Winter Workshop give me great bang for my buck. I learn at these events and make fabulous networking contacts.” Suzanne Adele Schmidt, Ph.D., Renewal Resources
“A few years ago, I decided that I needed to do for myself everything that I advised business clients to do. Among other things, that meant that I do my own strategic planning. I now participate in strategic planning for our organization (which I did all along), AND I developed a strategic plan for myself. Mission, Vision, Values, Strategy–I sat down and did it all. At the end of the year, I set aside time to reflect on the last year and plan for the next one. I’ve been doing this for six years now, and am absolutely committed to continuing. I’ve found that this gives me a much more balanced look at my life. For example, I treat “personal and professional growth” as a fundamental value adopted by Me, Inc. Every year, I develop a strategy (which includes a budget and numeric goals) for reading, speaking, writing, attending conferences, etc. That way, professional development gets its due, instead of always being put aside for more “urgent” concerns. For me, this whole exercise both helps assure my professional growth AND adds to my sense of integrity, by doing to myself what I would have others do.” Brien Palmer, InterLINK Management Consulting
“Managers often think of ourselves LAST when we think about staff need for professional development. I think this is the wrong approach if we plan to lead by example. Making time and effort to keep current with research, trends, technology, etc. is always difficult. Incorporating the changes is even more difficult. It’s just a must!” Susan E. Gove, Ph.D., Gove Group, Inc.
5 Tips to Continue Your Professional Growth
- Join a professional organization. This enables you to identify a network of peers. You can attend periodic meetings (usually designed to educate you in your profession) and get a directory of other members. Your membership often includes a professional periodical.
- Read a book a month. Select books that address areas of your professional life that you wish to enhance. An easy way to find these books is on Amazon.com – you select one book and they give you a list of several other books that others have chosen on a related topic.
- Network with colleagues. It is still “work” if you take time to have lunch with a colleague and discuss trends in your field! Schedule these opportunities at least quarterly.
- Vision your success. Set a goal for yourself and work toward that goal. Think about what it takes to get there, make an action list, and work your way through that list.
- Write your own retirement introduction. What will your colleagues say about you when you retire? What will you have done throughout your career to make a difference? What do you want them to say??? Write this, and work backwards.