Investing in Yourself
By Neena Newberry, MBA '92
As this year kicks off, I want to challenge you to think about how you’re investing in your professional growth and development. When was the last time you really took the time to focus on this? Perhaps when your company asked you to fill out your goals as part of the performance management process?
Well, I want to give you a few simple ideas to consider so you can start taking action today:
1. Put your strengths into play more powerfully.
Most people pay far more attention to their developmental areas than their strengths. But focusing on your strengths can give you that extra edge to take your performance to new heights. So, take a minute and jot down your top three strengths.
When I work with my clients, I help them recognize their strengths by connecting the dots between feedback from others, what I notice in the assessments they take, and common themes that emerge in our coaching. Even if you’re not working with an executive coach, you can take online assessments like the StrengthsFinder or the VIA to give you additional insight and perspective.
Once you have identified your top strengths, ask yourself, “What one or two things can I do to put these strengths into play more powerfully, in the context of my current professional goals and role in the organization?” Just asking yourself this question will help you become more intentional about using your strengths.
2. Ask how you can be more effective.
Opening yourself up to feedback can be painful, but invaluable. When I conduct 360° interviews as part of the coaching process, I always ask the feedback providers what my client should start, stop or keep doing to be more effective. You can do this on your own if you have the courage to put yourself “out there” and receive the input, and feel confident that people will be candid. So, think about who you would want to ask for input and how often.
Also, remember that asking for input from others can create a solid image about your leadership style, as long as you keep your defensiveness in check. Just know that you probably will not agree with all the input, and unless you plan to do something with it you’re better off not asking for it.
3. Think about how you want to stretch yourself.
Finally, as you look ahead to the next six months or a year, how do YOU want to stretch yourself? What skills or expertise do you want to further develop? What does the business really need? How will an investment in those skills or expertise enable stronger business results and advance your career?
By getting clear about the answers to these questions you will begin to formulate a business case in your own mind about how you want to invest in yourself, and the resources you may need from your company to do so. Neither you nor your company will invest time or money if there’s no ROI, so get clear about the outcomes you want to achieve.
Hopefully these three tips have stimulated some ideas for you. I want to challenge you to pick one area to take a small step towards this week. Remember that small steps can lead to big results.
Neena Newberry is an executive coach and consultant with operations in Dallas and Houston. She is the president of Newberry Executive Coaching and Consulting LLC and has over 17 years of experience coaching and advising clients in midsize to Fortune 500 companies. She works with high performing managers and leaders to get even better results and specializes in working with women in dual career families. Sign up for her’s weekly articles by visiting the top left-hand corner of her company home page.