When managers attend our training programmes, we often ask the question, “In the last year, how many CDs on management have you listened to, how many DVDs on management have you watched, how many YouTube videos on management have you researched, how many TED talks have you downloaded, how many podcasts have you listened to on management, how many books on management or leadership have you read and how many articles have you saved on leadership or management?”
We ask this, not to embarrass any managers, but to highlight the fact that, for most managers, the whirlwind of the day-job often takes over from everything else.
Yet, this is their career.
This is what they have chosen to do, maybe for the rest of their life.
Why, then, would we not take time to invest in that career by keeping up with the many-faceted changes that are happening every week in management and leadership?
Maybe it’s because we don’t know what to read from the hundreds of thousands of websites that are out there.
Maybe it’s because we think we don’t have the time to research. Maybe we think we don’t need to increase our knowledge because we are doing well enough as we are.
Rationalising like this will have a profound effect on our value for the future of ourselves and our companies.
If we consider that learning more about our jobs is not necessary, we put ourselves in a dangerous situation.
The successful managers of the future will be those who put learning and development for themselves and their teams at the top of their priorities
Because the value of management in the future will revolve around key skills like problem-solving, decision-making, creative thinking, critical thinking and analysis.
This means that managers need to plan their learning and development opportunities as if they were one of the most important and valuable jobs they could undertake.
If we don’t respond to the new thinking age in our management roles, we run the risk of being left a long way behind by those who do.
So, what should you learn?
How can you cut through the dross and create a learning programme for yourself that will prove beneficial time-wise, and make yourself more valuable in the future?
Naturally, it depends on a number of factors, including what industry you are in, the requirements of your company, your current knowledge and education levels and the expectations of your business in the future.
But, if you are to progress, you must realise that the best investment in your busy life you can make is an investment in learning and development of yourself.
Where should you start?
1) Begin by analysing what the best managers in your industry need to know in the next three years that will make them valuable and different from the rest.
This will help you decide what subjects and what topics would be valuable to search out.
2) Determine through specific searches those companies and websites that will offer a high level of intellectual material to help you on your journey
3) Make goals on what level of knowledge you want to achieve in, say, one year, then there years and then beyond
If I was to say you should devote 100 hours to studying a specific subject to help your career advancement, what would you say?
You’d probably say something like ‘What! 100 hours? ONE HUNDRED? You’re having a laugh, Sean!’
But what if I was to say that equates to just 30 minutes a day, each workday, for less than one year.
How much mindless TV do you currently watch?
Would it be possible to cut back just one half-hour TV programme and replace it with an 18 minute TED talk? Or a couple of podcasts?
Or a search and download and read of a specific article from Forbes.com or FastCompany?
Or a couple of chapters from a latest management book from your favourite author?
Yes, just 30 minutes on each weekday would give you over 100 hours of study in less than a year! And that’s while having the weekend off!
You need to ensure that your value to yourself and your company increases as time goes on.
The only way you can do that is by enhancing your skillsets and knowledge by researching the latest ideas in your field, and investing quality time on thoughts, concepts and wisdom that will take you further and improve your use to your company and your team.
Invest time in areas that will prove worthwhile and see how you become the go-to person in your company and also on LinkedIn as people see how your knowledge can assist them in developing too.
You may find you actually enjoy it too!