Who’s Driving?

As leaders, our plates are full. We are all, at some level, evaluated and rewarded based on performance, which is often tied to results, bottom-lines, or project deliverables. With all of these important responsibilities to keep us occupied, who has the time or energy to add personal growth and development to the to-do list?

Corporate culture can create a system in which the responsibility of development resides with someone else—usually the manager or the Human Resources department. Have you ever thought, “It’s someone else’s job to tell me what I need to do better, and then help me do it”?

Nick Petrie, a senior researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership, a partner to The Leaders Lyceum, conducted a study on the current and future state of leadership development. He found that “many workers unknowingly outsourced their own development to well-intentioned strangers who didn’t know them, didn’t understand their specific needs, and didn’t care as much about their development as they themselves should. This model has resulted in many people feeling like passengers.”

Unfortunately, this norm of conceding responsibility for growth to someone else often results in people feeling obligated rather than motivated to grow. People are more motivated to develop when they feel a sense of ownership and autonomy over their growth and when the development opportunities are tailored to fit them. This is when real and lasting change happens. “The challenge will be to help people back into the driver’s seat for their own development.”

The future of leadership development is about teaching people how to take responsibility for their own development and challenging them to develop their mindset, not just their skill set.

So who’s driving your development? Are giving someone else the responsibility for your development, or are you stepping up to lead yourself?