Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Growing Leaders

When I first became a manager, I was fortunate. I worked for someone who cared more that I became an effective leader than just about anything else. I guess he figured (and rightly so, I've come to believe) that if all his managers were effective leaders, then just about anything else that needed to happen in the department would indeed come about: through us and the people we led together. Here's what I've come to learn since that time - hardly anyone has that level of support transitioning into any level of leadership it's too bad because it's both wanted and needed.

That is a sad and somewhat discouraging fact highlighted in a new survey just published by Development Dimensions International, Inc called Leaders in Transition: Stepping Up, Not Off. My own observation is that corporate work is simply moving too fast and too much else is demanded of leaders already in their own roles to provide the level of mentoring for the next generation leaders that I received. The results of this survey confirms this:

Very few leaders feel that organizations are doing the right things prepare their future leaders.
Fortunately, these leaders in transition don't have to be left high and dry even if sometimes they are left largely to their own devices. If you're not getting support through your organization, look for it elsewhere.

For some, reading may be good enough. I myself cultivate a variety of resources that help feed me new ideas on a regular basis. I've come to appreciate a local coach and columnist, Maureen Moriarty, though amazingly enough, our paths have not yet crossed. I'm thinking I'll have to do something about that.

I also cannot say enough good things about Bob Lewis, and I highly recommend you get yourself subscribed to his e-Zine, even if you're not an IT manager as quite regularly his essays deal with everyday questions of leadership. I've been reading his stuff for years and believe I am a better leader for having done so.

And when you want more personalized support, if your organization isn't providing it directly, maybe it's worth considering looking for that support outside of the organization. Peer learning groups such those offered by Woods Creek or supportive organizations such as ATW for women are illustrative of some of the options available.

If you hold the conversations in the right ways, your company might even pay for part or all of the expenses in participating in a group like these, since it's in their best interests for you to have access to the mentoring you need to grow as a leader. And there are always coaches out there too, many of them good and at least one of us is probably a good match for your needs.

However you get the support and whoever pays for it, I do encourage you not try to do it all by yourself. There's no great honor in going it alone if you can become more effective in less time and with less stress by getting some help along the way. After all, it's not like there's a lot of time these days to hang around and wait for the magic wand to wave and suddenly remake you into the world's most effective leader.

And if you need more convincing than your own experience, I encourage you to read the details on the DDI findings. It's powerful stuff.

What have been your experiences in growing as a leader? Send a message to me at techsurvivor@soaringmountain.com and share your best resources - I'm always curious about what works best for people in this arena.

Where can I best get the support that I need to grow professionally in the direction I want?

Kimm Viebrock is an ICF-credentialed Associate Certified Coach who helps technology professionals and service-oriented technology groups develop and use their skills more effectively and increase their value within the larger organization, allowing them to do more, do it better and have more fun doing it. Kimm is devoted to finding the connectedness in life.