Personal development can be defined as a process that serves the purpose of bettering one’s personal qualities and abilities. Continual development is especially important for those that are leading other people and organizations. Firstly, managers who make a conscious effort to improve themselves can lead their employees by example (Woodcock, 2017). If they do not practice what they preach, they risk being seen as hypocrites by their followers. For example, if I, as a manager, might promote time management among my team members but routinely show up late and violate deadlines. In this case, the team members will eventually notice the lack of congruency between my words and actions and become demotivated to develop their time management skills.
The second reason why personal development is critical to fulfilling a managing role in the rapidly changing business environment. I like the whitewater rapids metaphor described by Reiche et al. (2016). The metaphor signifies the ever-evolving nature of the modern world where change is not a minor aberration but a primary characteristic of reality. Managers need to understand that when there is an important change in politics, economics, or technology, there is not and cannot be going back to normal. To keep up with the changes and remain effective in their roles, managers should invest time and effort in their self-development. This will help them refine the most important skills that there is today – the ability to learn.
As a manager, I have already made quite a lot of progress in leading my team. Among the most developed skills that I have, I would like to point out my ability to delegate. I have learned to accept that managers cannot know everything about the domain of knowledge of every single employee. For this reason, it does not make sense and is even harmful to try and micromanage team members. Firstly, it is detrimental to building relationships based on trust, and secondly, micromanaged employees feel demotivated and lose the will to take initiative. I am fairly good at knowing when to have a firm grip and when to take more of a laissez-faire attitude.
This leads me to the second point – decision-making is vital to organizational success. Decision-making is pivotal in organizational management: a good decision can make it or break it. To me, it seems that I have sufficient analytical and problem-solving abilities to come up with a good enough plan. In particular, I am good at making decisions under time pressure, on the go. I consider myself to be an original thinker who can generate out-of-the-box ideas.
At this point, one of the growth areas that I would like to work more on is communication. Throughout my career, I have learned the power of active listening and taking another person’s perspective. I am convinced that the majority of organizational issues stem from people’s inability to get their point across and make an effort to understand each other. As a manager, I want to encourage my team to speak up, express their concerns, and share ideas. Ideally, I would like to also develop tools for receiving feedback from my teams such as surveys and online forms. In order to align my personal development with organizational objectives, I need to work on my people skills more as well as be more empathetic and compassionate.
Lastly, I would like to reframe the challenges that are inevitable in any person’s life as valuable lessons. I used to experience a great deal of stress because of small things that were not even worth my time or energy. With time, however, I hope to become more flexible and accepting. As mentioned above, change is not an aberration – it is the nature of life itself. For this reason, I will be more mindful about my responses to stressful events. This approach will hopefully help me embrace new technology too as I need to keep up with trends for my work.
At the moment, I see opportunities to meet my current goals within the organization that I have been working for quite a while. The organization offers a few career paths for those who would like to improve themselves and take their expertise to the next level. My employer appreciates personal initiative in fulfilling work responsibilities. For this reason, I am planning to demonstrate to my employer that I have the necessary experience to assume even more challenging leadership roles. Eventually, I would like to make use of an opportunity to push the logistics department forward to the next level.
So far, I have set five achievable but challenging goals that are aligned with both my personal vision and organizational objectives. Below is the list of goals conceptualized within the SMART framework:
- S (specific) – completing my management course; M (measurable) – my success is measured by my performance and ability to earn a certificate; A (achievable) – so far, this course has been challenging but manageable; R (relevant) – completing the management course will enable me to grow within the company; T (time-based) – course completion has predefined time boundaries;
- S – have an understanding of how to be a better manager; M – promotions and performance metrics are good indicators; A – I am currently taking a course in management that will serve this goal; R – my career goals require me to become a better manager; T – I envision to see the results in the next two-three years;
- S – have a better understanding of the direction that the company is taking; M – self-appraisal; A – I have enough support within the company; R – my career goals require me to gain a better understanding of the course that the company is taking; T – I envision to see the results in the next few months.
- S – engaging in supporting other departments; M – my success is measured by the improved performance metrics of the said departments; A – my experience managing people will allow me to do so; R – this goal is aligned with my vision for myself; T – I envision to see the results in the next two-three years;
- S – gaining promotion to senior management; M – my success is measured by my status in the company; A – my experience managing people will allow me to do so; R – this goal is aligned with my vision for myself; T – I envision to see the results in the next three or more years.
Reiche, B. S., Stahl, G. K., Mendenhall, M. E., & Oddou, G. R. (Eds.). (2016). Readings and cases in international human resource management. Taylor & Francis.
Woodcock, M., 2017. Team development manual. Routledge.