How to Practice Self Development to Enable Career Advancement amidst COVID-19

Author: Aravind Warrier
Date: July 06, 2021
Advancing in your career isn't a chance you leave it to happen. Career advancement is a conscious choice, and the investment you make is in terms of your time, energy, and effort.
  • I feel neither my organization nor manager cares for me or my career.
  • I feel I am just another member for my manager.
  • Does my manager ever believe in my holistic development?
  • Should I work for this organization that doesn't care for development?
  • Does this organization stifle my career?
As a manager, these are some statements that you might encounter if you haven't already. This is not an extra perk that your employees demand but a practice that ensures that your organization contributes to his/her potential. It becomes mandatory for the leaders to create micro leaders who see the organization as not just a place to come and work but a place where micro leaders work as a single entity with a shared mindset of growth and excellence.
After doing personal interviews with emerging professionals, leaders, managers, and emerging talents, I feel this needs to be seen from two lens or frames.

The Frame of a Manager

The Frame of Self

I need to create an environment for the talent to create an impact.

I need to find my own network or circle of influence to create an impact by sharing my expertise.

I need to develop his/her negotiating /persuasion skills.

If influence is the key, let me build or strengthen my negotiating/persuasion skill.

Can I provide my teammate a shadowing/sponsoring/mentoring opportunity?

Can I mentor/guide/coach my teammates?

How can I make my teammate realize his/her strength?

Do I know myself? Self-reflection – The power of knowing thyself.

Since the lens gives us room to ponder, let's discuss the capital, an investment that you owe to yourself to create an impact, in detail.
  1. Self-Reflection Capital:

    "You are more powerful than you think."
                                                              - Nike
If that quote is true, how many of us really know ourselves, our hidden power & strengths? Thought in length at many business schools, but how many of us put some time (hours or days) towards the art of self-discovery? Easier said than done. Self-reflection is a remarkable tool for defining priorities and holding oneself accountable. It also allows leaders to ward off disasters by planning for every possible outcome and to build stronger teams by encouraging reflection in others.
"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."
- Aldous Huxley

Here are some questions to ponder over.

  • What did I do [Doables & Deliverables - Words, Actions & Thoughts] in all dimensions of my life?
  • Did my deliverables create an impact in someone's life today?
  • Does my manager ever believe in my holistic development?
  • What will keep my head high?
  • What will make my head bow?
  • What actions should I perform to lead my people and team?
  • Why should people follow me?
  • If I lived today over again, what would I have done differently?
  • How did I capitalize my assets?

    -         Network & relationship [inside & outside]

    -         Learning Appetite

    -         Time

  • What's my resilience index? (The power to come back)
  • How do I define my failure?
  • What self-development do I need for myself? (Self-investment)
  • What stretch do I have to put to make myself outstanding?
  • Am I effective or efficient?
  • What is success to me? My definition of success?
  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here? What's my purpose?
  • Am I running the right race? What's my competition playground?
  • Am I running the race well?
So if this is a very costly capital, this needs a big thought. Few transitions test one's character, like moving to a senior leadership role. It's one thing to gain mastery of a particular function or skill set; it's quite another to take responsibility for and earn the respect of employees from different backgrounds, functions, and cultures. For many leaders, this transition is marked by a period of self-doubt. The newly appointed ask themselves: Am I tough enough? Extroverted enough? Can I deal with the constant exposure? This results in a type of impostor syndrome. Becoming a leader does not require adopting a new persona. It means amplifying your true self with focus and discipline. The key is to be authentic, to refocus, redraw and reframe one's own experiences, values, and strengths.
  1. Influence Capital & Impact Capital
In the social world, your network is power, but the question here is if your network is your currency, how do you cultivate, preserve or sustain it. Isn't it an art? Influence cannot happen in a day or two.
"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: the potential for greatness lives within each of us."- Wilma Rudolph

The below equation would summon it.

Influence Capital /Impact Capital = Expertise power + Sharing mindset + Trust earned through your words & action + Intrinsic drive/motive
  • Expertise Power: Expertise is the deep pocket knowledge that a leader gains over the years through his learning appetite and behavior of up-skilling and re-skilling through continuous learning.
  • Sharing Mindset: "Sharing is Gaining." This applies in developing your influence capital. The more you give, the more the capital multiplies in huge numbers. Since the social world acts as a multiplier to make you a brand, why not share your impactful deliverables and seize the moment.
  • Trust & Integrity: Your integrity is something you will be known for. Integrity is the means to create trust and create an impact. Great influencers are authentic, and they maintain high standards of 'Trust & Integrity.'
  • Intrinsic Drive: Self-drive always is the key. Being self-driven ensures that you set the momentum for people to get influenced.
If you look at impactful leaders, they have always used power in the workplace to influence and not to control. It's not about pressing your people but about inspiring, captivating, and mobilizing their capabilities towards a greater purpose. Building your influential capital early sets the moment or environment to deliver impactful deliverables.
  1. Mentoring/Sponsorship Capital:
A tool that has never been used to its fullest, a reflective tool that aids to understand how much I know about my experience and expertise that I have gained over the years. Few questions that an emerging leader can ponder over are:
  • Can I overshadow my manager in projects?
  • Can I cross-collaborate to widen my skills to power my cross-skilling skills?
  • Can I be part of cross-functional teams to expand my thoughts and problem-solving skills?
  • Can I take up stretch goals to capitalize & re-kindle my passions, strengths, etc.?
If you look at impactful leaders, they have always used power in the workplace to influence and not to control. It's not about pressing your people but about inspiring, captivating, and mobilizing their capabilities towards a greater purpose. Building your influential capital early sets the moment or environment to deliver impactful deliverables.
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."- Steven Spielberg
While it may seem like mentorship or sponsorship benefits only the protégé, the mentor stands to learn from the relationship. Mentoring not only allows the mentor to share the experiences but helps to cultivate a sheer passion for sharing knowledge, learning, and making others succeed. It ensures by imparting insights and sets the momentum of inspiration and empowerment for others to operate.
  1. Persuasion & Negotiation Capital:
Mastering this capital needs you to marshal or strengthen the five core elements-source, message, medium, public, and effect. Great influencers use all five judiciously as all these costs too much in the social world.
Persuasion is part of the communications process. The five basic elements of persuasion--source, message, medium, public and effect."- Martin Luther King
Your persuasion and negotiation expect you to be prepared. It's not enough to be able to showcase your earned skills, competencies, knowledge, and experience. You also need to think through the other side of the business. It's important to widen your perspective of thought. Your persuasion and negotiation set the table for a ‘win-win' situation and not a ‘win-lose' situation.
The path to excellence has never and will never be easy. It takes humongous effort in terms of growing yourself to the next level. Self-development is not an individual activity per se, and some are lucky to have inspirational influential managers or leaders who would play an enabler role to make you effective and ensure you deliver great. In case you are not, you got to play your own game that will make you more powerful and increase your renewal and resilience capacity, which by itself is a costly affair considering the pandemic and world we live in.

Biography of the Author

An HR Professional with experience of more than twelve years, Aravind Warrier has worked in multiple sectors like Information Technology, Manufacturing, and Pharmaceuticals in leading MNCs. Having worked very closely with business leaders in managing mission-critical projects and assignments, he has been pivotal in providing a strategic perspective to the organization. Apart from being passionate about keeping up his learning curve while developing and coaching team and extended team, he is a motivational speaker and also serves as an advisory member for many leading business schools across India.]
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