The late preacher Samuel Shoemaker once described the logical progression of a faith seeker as exposure, explanation, experiment, experience, expression and expansion.
This also perfectly describes what a well-designed professional development plan should incorporate.
If all we know is how we are performing with the knowledge and resources we’ve always had – “the way we always do things around here” – we will get what we’ve always received.
And the rapidly changing world will pass us by.
Improvements require exposure to new, different ideas, resources and techniques and even tried-and-true ideas from which we may have strayed.
This can arrive simply from professional development articles in trade journals to full-blown advanced university degree programs.
There are some who believe their education ends upon receipt of a diploma – certainly a limiting, self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is imperative for positive, influential leaders to seek and explain the need for and ultimate benefits of lifelong personal development through continuous learning.
A good supervisor or manager will provide guidance on the “what” and “how” tasks, and the excellent leader will invest the time for communicating the “why” behind those actions.
The return on such an investment begs the question: How can we perform even better? Therein lies the future goal.
An old saying goes something like this: Knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.
Therefore, we must experiment with diverse ways of conducting our lives if we hope to achieve better results.
Let’s face it, would you allow a person to style your hair if he told you he read great cosmetology publications but never picked up a pair of scissors?
It should be noted that while applying innovative ideas and techniques, also allow for modifications resulting from evolving business and personal environments.
The trial and error (and success) of repetitive action produce data which add to our experience cache.
The real key to building that professional development cache is committing to new behaviors to help reach your goals – and include those behaviors in daily routines.
A simple yet powerful point is that it’s just as important to know what doesn’t work. Traveling the road to success includes knowing how to avoid the off-ramps of failure.
By and large, we are social animals. So when we benefit from positive changes in our lives (business or personal), there is a need to tell others.
This proud communication serves as reinforcement of our evolving successful habits.
Finally, influencing other team members in positive ways to exhibit similar attitudes and behaviors expands success throughout the enterprise.
The best way to learn something new is to teach it to someone else, because training others reinforces our own learning.
Developing leadership at all levels is critical to the sustainability of every organization. It should be a line item on every job description.
Vincent Fazio is president of Keystone Leadership Group LLC (www.keystoneleadershipgroupllc.com) of Allentown, a franchise with Leadership Management International Inc., and an associate with Target Training International. For 30 years, he has worked with leaders at all levels, helping them make positive change in their business and personal lives. He can be reached at 610-841-9991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.