The importance of Personal Development

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The importance of Personal Development

I have always treated my continual personal development seriously throughout my career.

This blog is going to outline my thoughts on how you should take ownership of your own continuous personal development.

For me I have always had a thirst for knowledge. In the early part of my career it was mainly qualifications that satisfied that thirst. But after that I started to focus more on every element of development.

I have taken personal responsibility for renewing and updating my skills and knowledge over my working life. Personal development should be a lifelong process of nurturing, shaping and improving your skills and knowledge to ensure maximum effectiveness but more importantly employability.

Many employers are increasingly aware of the importance of investing in their staff, and many have structures in place to provide opportunities for training and development  of their employees. This is always a good starting point for your personal development, and if you can you should seek to maximise any training and development opportunities your employer might provide.

Personal development does not necessarily imply upward movement; it is more about enabling individuals to improve their performance and reach their full potential at each stage of their career.

Continuous personal development needs some planning if it is to be done well, and it should help you to :

–  consider where you are now, where you want to go and how you might get there

– revitalise technical skills that date very quickly

– build up transferable skills, such as self-awareness, ability to learn, adaptability to change, empathy and good time management

– monitor and evaluate your achievements

I have gained a great deal from being a member of The Chartered Management Institute and also being a Chartered Manager through that body. They helped me to think much wider than just formal qualifications for my own CPD.

Informal learning gained through experience in the workplace can also be extremely important, as can self-directed learning. This list from the Chartered Management Institute gives valid CPD activities that can include the following:

Attending events

  • Conferences
  • Seminars/webinars
  • Exhibitions
  • Networking events

Structured learning

  • Embarking upon, working towards and completing a qualification
  • Training courses, including in-company programmes
  • Tests
  • Informal or self-directed learning
    • Reading journals, books, research papers etc
    • Viewing multimedia resources e.g. videos, e-learning etc
    • Coaching and mentoring
    • Experiential or “on-the-job” learning

Voluntary and other activities

  • Volunteering at branch or national level for CMI or any other professional body
  • Organising charitable activities
  • Being a school governor
  • Relevant learning gained through leisure activities

 

I would recommend that effective CPD should be multi-faceted, i.e. include a range of different activities that include self-directed study and opportunities to learn from other people in both formal and informal settings.

I have learnt a great deal from being a Chartered Manager, and part of remaining a Chartered Manager is to ensure you log your Continual Professional Development. When you are considering what types of CPD you may need the Institute uses a very simple but effective way of assessing your needs.

It goes through a cycle of Reflection, Planning, Action and Evaluation. I have set these out below in case you want to use it.

Reflection – What are my needs and objectives?

It is always a good idea to set some time aside during which you will not be disturbed to think about your professional skills and knowledge as a manager and leader and how you might develop these further to improve your effectiveness.

Asking yourself the following questions may help this process:

What do you do well and what are you less confident or effective in? Have there been any particular incidents over the last twelve months, from which you can learn, or things you wish you had done differently?

Planning – What am I going to do?

Once you have a good idea of what your needs are and what you might like to achieve it is time to prioritise and schedule your next steps towards achieving these.

  • Which things are most urgent for your development, and which are most important? Try to focus on the things that can make the biggest impact.
  • How can you best schedule time for development activities in your upcoming work plan?
  • Are there some activities which you would like to undertake that have fixed timings, for example training programmes, courses or events you would like to attend?

Action – What have I done?

Once you have completed a specific action make sure that you record the fact. The Institute provides an excellent online facility,

Evaluation – What have I learnt?

There are two key things you should consider when evaluating your CPD activities:

  1. What have you learnt? (Your learning outcome.) This part is about “I” not “we”. What have “I” learnt?
  2. How are you going to apply this new learning so that it has an impact at work?

This is what we mean by focussing on the outputs rather than the inputs of CPD. CPD recording that omits this stage is simply a list of things you have done.

If you would like to become a member of The Chartered Management Institute and a Chartered Manager visit their website at http://www.managers.org.uk.

I hope you have found this useful, and if you would like to see more blogs on other topics go to http://www.leadershipthinkingblog.wordpress.com

Paul Buckley

Reference

The Chartered Management Institute at   http://www.managers.org.uk

Where are you going in life?

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Where are you going in life?

I was recently doing some research and came across this story. I think I have had this story for ten years or more, but I’m not sure who wrote the original.

When I first read the story over ten years ago it had a profound effect on me.

It got me to think about where I was going in life.

So here is the story:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs …..I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you!”

“You start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants, and maybe even open your own plant.

You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting, ” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Mexican.

“After that, you will be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

And the moral is: Know where you’re going in life ….. you may already be there.

I love the simplicity of the story. How many of us have been on vacation anywhere in the world and met the equivalent of the Mexican fisherman, and who has thought just like the American; when I retire this is the sort of life I will follow?

More controversial maybe, how many of you actually don’t want to be the Mexican fisherman and are quite happy to work up to or beyond retirement age, but still enjoy your vacations?

I guess another way of looking at it is that happiness isn’t just about how much money you earn, or how many material possessions you have. Happiness is found through great experiences and memories.

Richard Branson said, ” Happy people have real work – life balance and don’t feel chained to the desk.”

So be honest with yourself about what is truly important to you in life. You may find that it is already closer than you think.

I recently read this quote that I thought was quite apt. “Look ahead 10 years then work backwards. Make sure every day brings you one step closer to where you want to be.”

So does this story make you think? It made me think.

I suppose the only issue to consider is are you clear where you are going in life?

for more visit http://www.leadershipblog.wordpress.com

Paul Buckley

I’m too Busy!

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I’m too Busy!

This blog looks at the problem that some people have of being too busy! But are they busy on the right things?

Do you know people who are always too busy? Are you that person? They are too busy to spend time with you, too busy to be creative and innovative, too busy to collaborate with others. Do these type of people who always say, “I’m really busy” or I’m so busy, ” drive you nuts!

What exactly are they doing? Not just with their time but with what they actually do?

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” Thomas A. Edison

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” – Unknown

The energy required to be continually busy can be both draining and stressful. It doesn’t enable them to have down-time to reflect, be creative and above all think through what they are doing and why they are doing it.

These people are always warn out but seem to achieve little. If some of the above sounds a bit like you the first thing to do is “have a quiet word with yourself.” You need to ask yourself if in fact you are part of your own problem.

Are you missing a trick here? Are you actually focused and busy on the important things? Are you able to take a step back and making time to think, read, reflect, be creative and innovative, putting things in prospective, and collaborating effectively with your colleagues? If not, you have a problem.

The answer to the problem lies in how you spend your time. The first thing that is usually said is that you spend 80% of your time working at the level below you. Why? Have you asked yourself that question?

Another  thing is that everything you do is important, and you emphasise  everything. You don’t make hard choices, you call them all priorities and work flat out to do them all. The truth is that not everything is a priority.

Do you also make other people’s problems your problem? You don’t just listen to another person’s challenge they are facing, you take it upon yourself to solve it. It isn’t good enough to support someone, you need to save them. It doesn’t matter that you cross boundaries and step on toes, you have to own it fully and solve it. The answer is that you should not rob people of their problems.

Do you ever convince yourself that you have to do everything. You committed to something so you have to see it through don’t you? You don’t want to be seen to quit do you?

Do you also pull the all nighter to complete something? Are you tired the next day but don’t want to show you are weak; you don’t need 8 hours sleep do you? The answer is probably yes you do need to sleep 8 hours to ensure you are fresh for the next day. So what did you achieve by pulling the all nighter? I bet this isn’t a one off but a regular part of how you work. Is it really worth it? By the way how is your general health? Do you look after yourself?

“Did you know there’s a difference between being busy and being fruitful? Did you ever stop to think that just being busy – running around in circles all day but not accomplishing anything – is the same as wasting your time? It’s frustrating to expend so much energy and time and not have any fruit from your effort!” – Joyce Meyer

It is time to choose quality over quantity. A reasonable number of hours each day. A well structured to do list in priority order with built in time for the unforeseen would be a much better approach. Tackle your top three true priorities early in the day, and get them out of the way. If that is too much to ask of you what about  if you could only do one thing today, what would it be? Take regular breaks during the day to ensure you remain focused on each issue you are dealing with. Leave other people to solve their own problems; by all means offer advice but don’t feel the need to solve it for them.

Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities. You have clearly got the balance right, you have just read my blog!

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

If it has been useful why not look at my other blogs at http://www.leadershipthinkingblog.wordpress.com.

Paul Buckley

Stay one step ahead in the leadership game

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Stay one step ahead in the leadership game

Today’s blog looks at strategic leadership and how you might measure your performance.

Strategic leadership is about stepping away from the day job and analysing your strategic performance as a leader.  You must keep challenging your own performance and look for ways to improve it. To do this I use the 12 traits below.

Warren Bennis said, “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” “A leader is a dealer in hope” said Napoleon Bonaparte.

At the start of each team meeting I used to pick two different traits each time to discuss with my team. We discussed if we mirrored these leadership traits, we give examples, or we discussed  how we might incorporate these points into the daily leadership of staff. We used it to reflect on how we might improve our skills and I saw my team grow through our discussions. We  repeated all 12 traits several times but still found them both relevant and stimulating.

We also felt that it was a positive way to start our meetings. See if it helps your team focus more on their strategic leadership.

  1. Leaders are both confident and modest. You need a healthy ego but you also need to keep it in check. Being a leader is not about making yourself more powerful. It is about making the people around you more powerful. “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better,” – Bill Bradley.

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders,” – Robert Townsend

  1. Leaders are authentic. You earn the trust and respect of the people around you by being yourself and when you walk the talk – the audio matches the video .Outstanding leaders actively build trust by delivering on promises and acting with consistency, which in turn, leads to a sense of security and greater freedom of expression. They understand the power of trust. Who believes in leaders who don’t believe in themselves?
  2. Leaders are listeners. Great listening is fuelled by curiosity. It’s hard to be a great leader if you’re not curious about people. What’s the enemy of curiosity? Grandiosity and a belief that your own opinion is more valuable than other people’s, or that you have all the answers.
  3. Leaders are good at giving encouragement and they are never satisfied. Leaders want others to do well so they are constantly encouraging, even when they see only tiny improvements. At the same time they always want something better for themselves and others. You can never reach a high enough standard. That means they are always testing and building the encouragement of the organisation and showing encouragement themselves. Great leaders are also prepared to put time and effort into making everyone feel special.
  4. Leaders make unexpected connections. They organise and lead conversations among people who don’t normally get together. They see the kind of patterns that allow breakthrough ideas and improvements.
  5. Leaders provide direction. This is different from providing answers. No single leader is smart enough to know everything so an effective leader relies on involving other people and getting their ideas. Smart leaders know how to ask powerful questions. As a leader you’re not really in control and you’re not really in charge, but you are in touch and you are out in front.

“A leaders job is to look into the future and see the organisation, not as it is, but as it should become,” – Jack Welch

  1. Leaders protect their people from danger and expose them to reality. Most people want a leader to insulate them from change rather than mobilise them to face it. That’s why leadership is so exposing.
  2. Leaders make change – and stand for values that don’t change. One job of a leader is to help identify what habits and assumptions must be changed for the organisation to prosper. Leaders ask, ” what values are so essential to our core that if we lose them we lose ourselves?”

Outstanding leaders enable a strong and shared sense of purpose across the organisation. They emphasis emotional connection for people with a focus on passion and ethical purpose.

  1. Leaders lead by example. They use small gestures to send big messages. Leaders have a fundamental obligation to live their lives according to their principles. Remember; you are always under the microscope.
  2. Leaders don’t blame – they learn. Even the smartest people make mistakes. These days the right mindset is an experimental mindset. Try, fail, learn, try again.
  3. Leaders look for old and new networks with others. Leaders look for allies inside and outside their organisations, they don’t play lone ranger. It’s only lonely at the top of the organisation if you place yourself on a pedestal.
  4. The job of the leader is to make more leaders. Leadership is not just about people at the top of the organisation. Everyone in the team needs to be a leader and to exercise leadership. The final task of the leader is to make sure that this is done.

 

Richard Branson said,” One of the most important skills any leader can learn is when to be decisive, and when to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.”

These 12 traits have given me motivation  and allowed me to think strategically and measure my performance, and challenge myself.

How do you measure up against the 12 traits?

Do you use a different set of leadership traits to measure yourself against?

If you adopt the above traits I hope they can motivate you and your team.

For more blogs go to http://www.leadershipthinkingblog.wordpress.com

Paul Buckley

The Multiplier Effect

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The multiplier effect

Just a thought whilst out cycling on my road bike….

If every motorist who got uncomfortably close to me on the road had to get on a bike and experience the same feeling multiple times each ride…..we could achieve the following:

  1. More of an appreciation of road space for all users – safer roads and less accidents
  2. Improved health and wellbeing for more individuals participating in cycling
  3. Healthier people equals reduced demand on national health service and social care budgets
  4. Reduced sickness absence from the work place
  5. The more people who cycle on the roads the safer they become (I live in the North, so can’t confirm this for London)
  6. Reduced vehicle journeys reduces environmental pollution and use of fossil fuels
  7. Edging towards becoming a cycling nation

The list I am sure is endless.

This could become the multiplier effect.

We become a healthier nation, we reduce costs and we help to save the planet. What is not to like.

Just saying!

Paul Buckley

Are you managing your time effectively?

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Are you managing your time effectively?

This blog looks at if you are managing your time effectively and gives simple tips on how to improve your time management.

Good time management has always been important, and it is increasing essential, as information overload and the need to have a good work-life balance put pressure on managers to get more out of their day.

Effective time management can help you to gain more control over your activities, increase your efficiency, improve your work-life balance and help you to become more proactive rather than reactive in preventing or dealing with problems.

Having good time management skills should help reduce work pressures so that you can feel more relaxed, with the added benefit that others will be more likely to perceive you as calm and well-organised.

The definition of time management is the conscious control of the amount of time spent on work activities in order to maximise personal efficiency.

Time management involves analysing how time is spent, and then prioritising different work tasks. Activities can be organised to concentrate on those that are of most importance.

Time is precious and must be maximised, particularly in a work context in order to allow you to perform well. Do you have set systems in place or do you manage your time without writing anything down?

There are two schools of thought on writing down your priorities. The first is that it is a good thing to have clear written priorities and to do lists, and any other lists you need to maximise your time.

The second approach is to write “done” lists which motivate you more by seeing the volume of tasks you are completing, rather than to do lists which are never completed. A to do list which is never completed can cause de-motivation, and a less likely chance that you will look at the list because of this reason.

I prefer lists and priorities so I am clear what I need to achieve, but not to go overboard with a list created every time you do something. That may confuse and de-motivate you.

Here are a few things that will improve your time management. They are only examples so please use the ones that best suit you.

Here are my top ten ways to improve time management:

  1. Set your priorities inside and outside work
  2. Distinguish important and unimportant tasks
  3. Delegate
  4. Learn to say “no”
  5. Allocate your time appropriately
  6. Do things well enough, avoid perfectionism
  7. Do hard tasks at your “hot” times
  8. Do not postpone unpleasant matters
  9. Set “quite time” to work without interruptions
  10. Just organise yourself each day by using what works for you

Remember the qualities of a poor manager are:

– Inability to meet deadlines

– Working excessive hours per week

– Losing sight of individual objectives and priorities

– Making hasty decisions (without considering the ramifications)

– Stress

– Insufficient time spent with family (little or no social life)

– Inability to prioritise

– Inherent fear of delegation

– Messy desk

Do you recognise any of these points in yourself? If so, what do you intend to do about them?

The Qualities of a good time manager are:

– Clarity of thinking

– Decisiveness

– Single mindedness

– Good memory

– Determination

– A methodical approach

– Punctuality

– Calmness

– Objectivity

– Rationality.

Do you recognise any of these points in yourself or colleagues you work with?

Techniques to improve time management

Whilst  working with Azure Consulting Ltd I was given a list which helped me think about my own time management and brush up in one or two areas. These are tips that you could use. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Have a list of weekly/ daily prioritised tasks.
  2. Set goals – Tell others/ write them down/ SMART.
  3. Keep good diary control – Book appointments/ set time aside for planning tasks and keep “thinking time” aside.
  4. Have an organised way to tackle large tasks – break them down into smaller bite sized chunks/ Mind map/ work backwards from the deadline.
  5. Set aside “Prime time” – When you can concentrate undisturbed.
  6. Avoid and manage interruptions – Stand up / be assertive- say “no” (nicely).
  7. Know your best time of the day to work – make sure you use that time productively. Manage your energy, not just your time.
  8. Have clear agendas for meetings with times allocated and finish times set aside, as well as start times. Prepare for your meetings, don’t just turn up!
  9. Plan ahead with others you may work with.
  10. Use technology to its best (e-mail etc) But don’t be a slave to your e-mail.
  11. Learn to delegate effectively.
  12. Take regular breaks – to refresh yourself. (see my previous blog)
  13. Don’t over-work: it is counter-productive.

However well-organised you are there are only 24 hours in a day. Try to maintain a healthy work/home-life balance.

Here is a great quote from Richard Branson; he says —“being punctual is a sign of respect for others. Being punctual doesn’t mean rushing around the whole time,” he explains. “I always find the time to exercise, and spend time with my loved ones. It simply means organising your time effectively.”

Thomas Edison said, ” Being busy doesn’t always mean real work. The objective of all work is production and accomplishment.”

Finally; don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have the same number of hours per day that were given to Mother Teresa, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

 

If you have found this blog useful why not have a look at similar blogs at http://www.leadershipthinkingblog.wordpress.com

Paul Buckley

 

References: Chartered Management Institute

Azure Consulting Ltd

Keep yourself fresh

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Keep yourself Fresh

Today’s blog looks at how to keep yourself fresh. My top ten gives you health, well being and lifestyle tips to ensure that you are keeping yourself fresh for the day ahead.

It is more important than ever post BREXIT to keep yourself fresh and look after yourself, ready for whatever the shape of business might look like in a changing world with the UK leaving the EU.

These tips are all about your health and well being. If you follow them and they help, you might want to share them with your staff.

Here are my top ten tips:

  1. Be passionate about what you’re doing – otherwise stop doing it! If you are not passionate about your job, change to something that you will be passionate about. Work is a big part of your life, so enjoy it!
  2. Enjoy learning – Enjoy and take ownership of your own personal development. Learning affects our well being in lots of ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. Learning can be formal; taking a course or qualification, or it can simply be reading a great book that inspires you. I find it useful to write down what you have learnt, and then later reflect on my notes. Never stop wanting to learn. Constantly refreshing your ideas can help you to remain positive. If you have the learning bug try to infect others around you.
  3. Be smarter about your online time – Don’t spend all your time checking your social media. It will suck you in and waste lots of your time when you should be focused on other things. Limit your use of personal social media in work. Remember you are in work to work!
  4. Exercise – Exercise is a great way to de-stress. It can be a trip to the gym, running, cycling, swimming. Some form of exercise should be part of your daily routine. It will keep you fresh, sharp and positive, ready to face each new day.
  5. Work when you are at work– When at work put 100% into what you are doing. Focus on giving 37 quality hours (or whatever your weekly hours are), not 50 mediocre hours. Presenteeism isn’t part of a successful companies culture. Some Swedish companies are working 6 hour days, but are finding increased production.
  6. Don’t work when you’re not – The reverse of 5 above is when at home don’t work. Your work-life balance is really important if you are going to reach retirement age with good health and well being.
  7. Have outside interests – ensure that you have interests outside work. That can be a hobby or sport. or whatever you enjoy in your leisure time. It will distract you from thinking about work all the time and help your health and well being.
  8. Meditate– Meditate, or if you don’t want to meditate play some soothing music and relax at least once a day; ideally in the morning before you face the day ahead. It will allow your brain to rest and be mentally refreshed. See my other blogs on mindfulness; they may help you.
  9. Use your lunch break – Taking a break and enjoying some lunch is obvious, but how many people skip lunch and keep working? Hold on to your lunch break and take the time allotted. Move away from your workspace and go to the canteen or a quiet area to enjoy your food mindfully. It will recharge your batteries ready for the afternoon. You could even fit a trip to the gym in, or a run.
  10. Take your holidays – How many people don’t take their full quota of holidays they are entitled to take? If you are going to keep fresh you need to take regular holidays. What do people gain by not taking their holidays? Take your holidays, relax and enjoy time with your family and friends.

Hope you find these tips useful. If you would like to see more visit my blog site http://www.leadershipthinkingblog.wordpress.com

Paul Buckley