As a leader, are you seeking growth opportunities?

Many set new goals and resolutions at the start of a new year. For example, some say they want to take better care of their health. Others say they want a better work/life balance. The problem is that these goals should be narrower. Unless they are broken down into measurable steps, they will be forgotten and abandoned quickly.

As leaders, we look out for others and often encourage others to develop and grow, yet leaders can neglect their growth. Leadership is a verb, meaning you become a leader by doing. Setting yourself up and finding new growth opportunities is more than reading a short article, blog post, or watching a Ted talk. When we invest in ourselves, the team becomes more robust. Growth is critical to continued success at every level of leadership.

Several years ago, I got hooked on leadership books. When I read, I highlight and mark the text with post-it tabs—keeping concepts that make me ponder and want to improve. When we discover something we connect with, we want to share it with others.

The last book I read was “Bet on You” by Authors Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch. In September, Angie will come to Jerome for the 2nd Annual Leadership Symposium. Angie shares a story about taking a risk. “You are responsible for all you do and fail to do.” We can’t grow and develop ourselves if we do not take action. Harvard Business Review article predicts that by 2027, 50% of all jobs will require a skill-set change. However, there are many ways to educate yourself and upskill without returning to school.

  1. Certifications

Many careers offer certifications for mastery of best practices in any field. Certificates show you have knowledge and capabilities in a specific area.

  • Online Learning courses

There are many learning platforms available. LinkedIn learning is one of the most recognized. Some top schools like MIT, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford also offer free courses.

  • Internships, Rotations, and Volunteering

To qualify for most internships, you need to be attending school. However, if you work full-time, ask your boss if they allow for rotation or cross-training in another area. You never know where a hidden talent is if you do not seek opportunities. For example, our very own city allowed two city employees to cross-train. They both enjoyed the opportunity so much that they ended up switching roles.

  • Seek additional assignments

Another way to add to your skills is to volunteer. Serving on nonprofit boards provide you with the opportunity to gain experience.

Reach out to coworkers and ask your supervisor for additional roles. When I was working in banking, my direct supervisor was the CEO of Insurance. While they searched, he was asked to take on the additional role of interim Marketing CEO. The CEO had me join him in the marketing board meetings. This opportunity ignited an interest in marketing with imaging and branding. It eventually led me to the director of earning my MBA – Marketing degree. We do not know where additional assignments will lead. We need to be willing to accept appointments and ask for them.

Stephen R. Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, teaches about having the end in mind. Once you have the end goal in mind, you work backward, setting measurable goals to achieve the big goal. Leaders are curious and hungry and continually strive to learn more about themselves and be better than they were yesterday.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director & CEO, MBA