You’ve reached the top. Now what? You’re leading! You look back, and traces of every position and every step taken before this all point to the immaculate heights you’ve reached. Is there anywhere else to go?
Of course, executives can ALWAYS move forward in their professional development—but how do great leaders juggle their own growth with the growth of their teams? With only so many hours in the day, surely you must choose one over the other?
It’s not easy, but it is possible!
The secret is choosing a professional development path that will ultimately benefit you and your organization—two birds with one stone. As a leader, you are responsible for understanding the community or industry you serve, staying on top of trends and rising technologies that could help or threaten your members, and offering your best to those you work with. If you remain stagnant, you won’t have much to offer to those you serve. They’ll try to grow without you, but you’ll hold them back.
Avoid being that bottleneck by prioritizing your own professional development. Indeed, you must strike a balance—you can’t leave your organization floundering while you progress without it—but you also can’t forsake your own personal growth. Set personal goals and strategies to ensure you’re moving forward and bringing your team along.
Start by identifying your top priorities and allocating time accordingly. Consider your long-term goals and the needs of your team. Ensure that you dedicate enough time to both professional development and organizational responsibilities by devoting specific time each month for webinars, networking events, or classes. Setting a monthly goal and planning ahead will help you be strategic in how you spend your time.
You must also be intentional about choosing opportunities that will have the most impact on your performance and the organization as a whole. This can maximize the value of the time spent on professional development. Consider pursuing opportunities that align with your organization's goals and values or that address specific skills or knowledge gaps. Where are the holes, and what options do you have to fill them?
With these new goals, the number of hours in your day will likely dwindle. What do you have left? Five hours to sleep and one hour to grab food?
Unfortunately, leadership roles grant no immunity from burnout or stress. Executives experience mental health issues just as often as those around them, and prioritizing personal well-being is vital. As impossible as it may seem, finding the time to shut down will benefit you and your team. Take time off and rest up, so you don’t hinder your ability to focus, impair your motivation, or disconnect from your team.
We’ve shared through previous blogs this month that leaders aren’t born—they’re made. They’re shaped through dedication to others, commitment to your community, and self-awareness to know whether or not you have what’s necessary to lead your team. The needs of an organization are constantly changing, and leaders must work to keep up. Though this is the case, don’t sacrifice your well-being. Learn to tell when you need a break, and be sure to appoint people you trust so you can delegate without worrying.
You already know that the hard work doesn’t stop when you reach the top. Don’t spin your tires trying to keep pace with an ever-evolving workforce, and don’t sit back, letting your understanding of the industry become archaic. Prioritize the professional development opportunities that will truly benefit you and your organization, and do what you need to so you can offer your best as often as possible.