Whatever stage you are at in your management career, if you want to achieve better results, you have to continue developing yourself.
There is no question about that.
Bigger and different challenges are coming every day, and we need to become better at what we do, learn new skills, develop different abilities, strengthen our strengths, and learn to better handle our weaknesses.
And, in this personal improvement process, our environment plays a significant role, because we tend to accept, embrace, or adapt to the behaviors we find around us, especially in people whom we are in close daily interaction with, and whom we respect.
Therefore, believe it or not, we are constantly influenced by our environment, and it depends on us to make that influence work in our favor, or against us.
Think about it for a moment: who are you being influenced by today? Certainly, you are, whether you are aware of it or not.
For many years, I was not conscious of this fact. I wanted to develop my management career, and I tended to accept, embrace, or adapt to behaviors that seemed to work for other people I considered "successful."
So I let myself be influenced by some who, at the end of the day, were not my role models and who had different approaches and management styles. Most of the influence I got did not serve me too much in the long run.
I would like to suggest something much more intentional, and effective, when it comes to our personal development: using our environment in our favor.
Use the Environment in Your Favor
I don’t remember now who said that any person we meet is better than us in something and that we are better than that person in something else. What means that, if we are open and intentional, we can learn a great deal from our daily interactions.
How can we use our current environment in our favor? By being selective about whom we allow to influence us, and in which way, ignoring all the rest.
Let me be specific.
1. Make a list of the three skills, abilities, or personality traits you would like
to acquire or develop.
It can be:
Communicate better at meetings
Be calmer when a conflict arises
Organize tasks more efficiently for your team
Engage the team members more effectively
2. Identify three people (one for each skill, ability or trait) in your environment
who are better than you at these areas you want to develop.
If there is no one in your immediate environment, look at your extended circle (customers, suppliers, discussion groups, business clubs, social acquaintances, etc.).
3. Watch these three people's behavior closely, ONLY with regards to the specific
traits you want to develop, ignoring everything else they do.
Actually, you may even dislike the person, but you want to get better at that specific ability. She is better than you. Watch her at her best, exclusively at her best.
4. Start identifying small, specific actions these three people do,
and try to mimic them.
Many years ago, I worked for a General Manager who had highly developed influencing skills. I remember watching him acting in meetings, and learning the specific actions and behaviors he used, and how impactful he was with the organization. I loved it, and ended up adopting some of them.
But I never liked the person as a person. He was not my role model when looking at him as a whole. Without being intentional, I would have ended up ignoring him, because I did not like him.
Your Time to Practice
If you follow the above described process, you will consciously develop the skills you want and get invaluable support from your environment, ignoring those negative influences you don’t need.
You are on your own path. You are the one who decides who you want to become. Not your environment.
The only conditions are that you have to be open, intentional, and determined to become a better manager or leader.
How do you see yourself today?