Your Experiences make the difference in Talent Development

Life is a series of experiences and each and every one of these episodes have an influence on who we are, what we think and how we react to any given situation.  Take a moment and reflect on something as basic as how you deal with conflict.  I suspect you will remember times when conflict arose and you will then revisit how the situation came to pass and how you reacted to the actions of those you were working with.  Based on the outcome, you might choose to use a similar method in a future episode or you might take a different approach, based on the success of the earlier event and how your actions were received and also how well they helped reach the desired result.

Experience is a great teacher and most of my fundamental learning on the lessons of experience came from my days learning from CCL through a series of workshops and also through the usage of many tools they employ to help others develop.  Development is never a destination, but it is always a process that includes stops along the way based on the current destination, needs and outcomes desired from a leader and those he/she is charged with engaging.

Here are just a few examples of how experience can help you develop your leadership talents more completely:

  • If you need to understand what it takes to grow a business from scratch, you need to be engaged in a similar activity in supporting role or in a lead role where you have adequate support.  Development is like riding a bicycle.
     You may fall off a few times and get a few scrapes, but the lessons of experience are invaluable in gaining the right skills for success.
  • Downsizing or "rightsizing" a business is best learned by being in the midst of such a process.  The emotions and pressures that come with making tough decisions affecting the lives of many are gained by doing this kind of work.  The odds of you reading about downsizing and then walking outside the classroom and doing this effectively are slim and none.
  • Moving from a technical to a functional leader comes from experience.  Technical leaders gain some basic skills in leading and managing others, but leading a business unit or an enterprise is best understood by being in a strong support role or taking the helm and learning from the experience.

I could add a number of other examples, but talent development is best done through experience.  Consider what you next career goals are and then determine what you need to be doing to gain the skills and knowledge to be ready for this opportunity.  Find a way in your current role to do these or consider an outside activity, or even a new opportunity that will afford you the ability to put yourself in the role you seek.

Experience is a great teacher.  Don't shy away from what it takes to become a better leader.