As well as leading people and the company, senior leaders are role models, change agents, stakeholders, and the face of the company. To maintain these high value and high quality activities requires leaders to invest in themselves and their leadership. To be the best versions of themselves, every day. Yet, many leaders don’t invest in themselves. Here is what senior leaders have said to me in the past as to why this is the case.

Too busy and not enough time to invest

Senior leaders have lots on their plate from their reports,  directors and others. They then procrastinate over their development. However, for these leader’s time and business is often more of an excuse than a reason. They are best placed above many in the organisation to delegate work to others and make decisions concerning themselves. If they use time as an excuse it sets a precedent to others and their mindset toward development. Time can often be translated into ‘desire’. Do they have the real desire to invest in themselves. If they do they will find the time.

Don’t see their development a priority

For leaders, their development is often last thing on their agenda. Often it has always been that way for them. It’s a (bad) habit. In some organisations, senior leaders aren’t given formal appraisals, so time is not given to discussion development needs. It can be telling if a senior leader doesn’t see their learning as a priority. Again this mindset often cascades down into their teams, with dire consequences.

Associating senior development with going to business school

Business schools can add a huge amount of value to any senior manager, especially as their products tailor to the needs of senior leaders. Often business cases will need to be developed to justify the investment. However there are ways of getting ‘executive education’ in cost effective ways. Its also about thinking differently about HOW leaders approach development. Technology is allowing wider access to senior development. Additionally, ‘qualifications and MBA’s doth not make the leader’. Leaders need to be able to translate, use and implement the learning to make if of any value. Finally, leadership is not a one size fits all activity. Some leadership development is too generic.

Overlooking the value of having a coach or mentor

I still have senior managers telling me they see coaching as a remedial tool or therapy, and therefore dismiss it. Yet coaching and mentoring is some of the most accessible, tailored and transformational development out there. Also, it doesn’t have to be expensive!

Afraid to ask for development

Some senior leaders are actually fearful of asking for development in their roles. They perceive that because they are there, they should have all the skills and tools. Therefore, it it is inappropriate to ask for development. Testing this perception often quickly dismisses it.

Unsure of where to invest their time and energy

In today’s world there is so much out there to learn about and discover, so where to start? The latest business thinking, technology, change, strategy, developments in the organisational field, latest legislation etc. etc. By keeping it simple, development decisions are more easily made… What’s my role in the organisation require of me? What does the strategy and organisation require of me? What do my teams and people require of me?

And finally… (always save the best to last!)

They don’t need development…

Some, (thankfully few) senior leaders say that they are too long in the tooth for further development. They have reached their ‘pinnacle’. Counting down to retirement. What I point out when I hear this response takes them aback. ‘Your leadership development isn’t about you, it’s for your teams and your business’. Their leadership abilities enable performance and create pathways for their reports and teams. Therefore, the better senior leaders become (at any age and experience), the better their people and businesses become.

Consequences of not investing in your leadership

Whilst there many excuses as to why senior leaders don’t invest in their learning, equally there are as many consequences to this too. Including:

  • poor ability to adapt and change
  • less competitive internally and externally
  • demotivation of reports and team
  • passed over for work / promotion
  • not on point with current thinking
  • weaker prospects for future external roles
  • a ‘staleness’ to own thinking and approaches

If you have found this article interesting and would like to get on track with your own leadership development, contact Abintus today to see how we can transform you you lead your people…

Click here to see how you can become a ‘learning leader’ who invests in their own development.

Nick Howell has worked with many leaders. His mission is simple, to help leaders learn and develop to be the best they can before themselves and their teams. He uses knowledge gained these experiences to inform and develop leaders, through his articles, coaching and training practice.