By Brian Dodridge
“No one cares more about your personal development than you do.” —Jenni Catron
It is your responsibility to develop yourself. God created you a pretty spectacular person, but in all areas of life, we need to grow. Some of this growth will occur organically. But it’s the other part that I’m talking about—the part that requires a purposeful effort.
Some of you (though not this writer) were born with helpful leadership genetics (tall, attractive, intelligent). However, no matter what was passed along to you genetically, or what your nurturing environment was like growing up, all high functioning leaders must focus on developing throughout their time of leadership.
Ah … self-development. Some loathe the phrase and its requirements, while others thrive on the concept.
Self-development is a significant part of the staff culture where I serve. There’s a high expectation to do it, and in order to help people grow, we provide resources of time and money to help them get it done.
I’ve written previously on our goal templates, our required leadership course, and the cost of “arriving in ministry” (thus, not pursuing improvement). But a recent chapter in Jenni Catron’s latest book, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, spurred me to think more about who needs to own the responsibility of self-development (or self-leadership).
In my role as executive pastor, many of the things related to self-development are things I pass along to staff. Some are suggested, while others are required. I can offer lunch and learns, seminary courses, trainings, books, and more, but ultimately, it’s the person’s decision to take advantage of them or not. If they don’t purposefully take advantage of them, then there will be nominal self-development.
There’s a responsibility on leaders to offer compelling self-development opportunities and at some level, the supportive margin and resources. But there’s also a responsibility on the learner.
Do you desire to develop who you are?
Catron’s words reminded me, “Your [our] leadership development is your [our] responsibility. Seize it.” She goes on to say, “Leadership development is not a right. It’s an opportunity and a privilege.”
A privilege? What?
Do you see self-development as a privilege? Do you talk about it that way? Or do you see it as another task someone is giving to you? How do those you lead interpret your view of self-development? Do they think you’re checking boxes and completing an obligation, or do they see you wholeheartedly behind it?
Let’s say you’re pro-development. Does your calendar show that you value self-development?
Many of us assume our development will happen organically—that through pure experience, we’ll develop. And that’s a fair assumption, but it’s not complete.
A lack of purposeful self-development will equate to a lackluster leader.
We put a lid on our leadership capacity when we choose not to pursue development opportunities. Further, those we lead who are intentionally developing will close the leadership gap. And it won’t be long until we no longer have the leadership IQ to lead them to next level.
How will you get 3% better in leadership this year?
Brian Dodridge serves as executive pastor at Brentwood Baptist Church near Nashville, TN.