The world in which organisations operate today is changing. Global competition has never been more intense, clients are becoming more knowledgeable and more demanding and new advances in Technology continue to affect all aspects of our lives. In response to these changes, the need to evolve our professional knowledge and technical skills continues apace. Indeed, in our knowledge-intensive world some have argued that the only real source of sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to recognise and adapt to these changes faster than the competition.
But, in our drive to keep up to speed and ahead of the competition, has our focus on technical competence and professional knowledge been at the expense of other aspects of our development? Have we lost sight of the need for a balanced and broad curriculum of personal training which encompasses not only the technical and knowledge-based requirements of our roles but also the softer aspects such as emotional intelligence and exceptional people skills? Have we fallen into the trap of believing that a day or two spent on a training course will provide the depth and breadth of development that we need? Do we believe we don’t have the time to focus on our own leadership development in addition to the other areas or that such time, if taken away from the office, will simply add to the mounting pressure and stress we already feel?
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then we are in danger of falling behind the competition rather than moving ahead. Whilst there is no doubt technical skills and knowledge are essential, they are only part of the solution. Understanding the human dimensions of workplace life is equally, if not more, important. Being capable of building powerful and effective relationships at work, capable of skillfully managing our feelings and behaviour and knowing ourselves and others is crucial. Appreciating the links between current work issues and our previous experiences and why we typically respond to certain situations as we do, gives us the option of accessing new ways of thinking and acting. By investing in our personal as well as our technical development we reap the benefits of reduced stress and increased confidence. We can learn how to:
- inspire and motivate followers, creating loyalty and commitment – improve our interpersonal skills, including influencing, motivating, presenting, resolving conflict and delivering bad news – build high-performance teams that truly are greater than the sum of their parts – refine our networking and business development skills – improve our performance management skills, including being able to handle “difficult conversations” – delegate effectively – coach and mentor others effectively
Much of our competitive advantage will come from the way we operate as an individual within our world of work and in how we are as a leader of others. Making sure we pay equal attention to all aspects of our development has to be the way forward if we are to grow and flourish.