"When I Do Better, We All Do Better" - Sony Thomas
A simple but a very powerful thought, and definitely a very difficult proposition. It is easier to ask someone else to get better, than work on ourselves to get better.
This truth is very evident in the quality of our relationships, be it professional, personal or social. I learnt this fact of celebrating life the hard way, that is, I graduated from the 'school of hard knocks'.
There was a point in time in my life, I believed I had got everything figured out and even worse, I thought my worldview was right and others had to come to my point of view, because I believed mine was better. The internal script of mine would sabotage my effectiveness and impact in my various professional relationships, my leadership, my friendship, and even in my marriage.
Even back then, I was a person who believed in learning, but my focus was only on developing my HR skills, to be a better Trainer and a HR consultant. I would read books and listen to people only in this area because I believed that if I master my skills, I could make the world a better place.
Oh boy! Was I wrong? It was when I realized that there are flaws and cracks in my internal schema, did I start to see the real world around me and the importance of changing myself. Once I made it a practice to intentionally and periodically review, assess and modify my worldview so it is aligned with my reality and my mission. Ever since I observed things around me got much more efficient, effortless and effective in my professional relationship, my leadership, my friendship and definitely in my marriage.
In one of my earlier HR consulting jobs, I was leading a small team and to my surprise, a new staff was assigned to me. I immediately noticed that she did not have the skills and the knowledge for the job. Therefore, me being a trainer, I would lay out the skills required and help her get better in those skills to deliver at least an average performance. However, she would show very little progress and went on to make mistakes. She was becoming a liability for the team; it was effecting the team dynamics and the results. Surprisingly, seeing my effort to help her, other members of the team tried to help her as well, but with little result, because there was an underlining skill and belief problem. Imagine how the team performance would have improved had she improved her skills by overcoming her belief problem.
A common incident I have noticed in organisations is how great individual/team contributors fail miserably when given the promotion to be a manager. They fail, because, they do not improve the required skills to manage work of others or improve their ability to influence. They are in a leadership role with the skills, knowledge and thoughts of an individual/team contributor. Imagine how they would all do better, if the manager changes himself/herself to being a person of influence.
Definitely, skill development is critical in making things better, be it as simple as making a cup of coffee for your loved one or as complex as completing a turnkey highly critical and highly specialized project on time. Many a times we become dead weights in our social, personal, professional context because we just are not updating our skills or our knowledge about the changing trends or meeting the changing expectations.
Your skill will definitely make the difference in the result, but weather the excellent coffee will bring you closer or not, depends on how much you have worked on yourself. The same goes for the turnkey project, weather you are a great manager/ technical wizard or a leader who inspires depends on the work you have done on growing yourself. To be a leader who inspires, you have to get better on the inside, it not only a skill thing, but also a self-awareness matter.
Remember, your leadership influence, your teams dynamics, your family time, your marriage bliss, your friendships, they all get better when you get better first!