When we decide we want to focus on an area of growth in our lives, there are several options. Sometimes we can get bogged down with these options, overwhelmed with all sorts of people tugging at us, trying to sell the next best thing to change your life. Today's post is intended to help you decipher which option may be best for you, as an individual, or as a leader of your team and organization.
So let's assume you have gone through the thought process in which you've identified an area you would like to see change or growth happen. This may be to enhance existing skills, grow as a leader, eliminate or reduce frustration in a certain area of your life, or a plethora of other indicators in your life that have triggered the need for change.
The first option I tend to go to for growth is what I'll call Self-Administered Learning. This might be researching topics and searching out information online. This could be reading a book on your topic of choice. This option is ideal for a highly disciplined person that can take what you found in your research and apply it to your life. This option is primarily dependent on you to have the drive and discipline to make the change happen. Change is typically slower when it is self-administered, simply because we are trapped between our subconscious mind, past experiences, and our busy schedules. Summary: Dependent on self, slow rate of change.
The second option that we tend to seek out is a conference or one-time event. An event is outstanding to jump-start your motivation in a particular area. They inspire us, and often ignite a deeper desire within us to validate the changes that we need to make. However, they typically do not lead to sustaining, long-term change. I highly suggest you use events in situations where you need a little kick in the booty to get started, but don't depend on the event to actually create the change that is needed. Summary: Administered by expert(s), usually limited to 1 or 2 days, great motivator, slow to no rate of change.
The next option is Training. Training implies there is a teacher that is more knowledgeable in a subject than you are, that is teaching you and others on specific content, with the goal to increase your skills in that particular area. This might be a training you attend with others seeking the same skill, but outside of your organization. It could be a training that is provided by or brought into your organization so that those you are surrounded by (other leaders, or other teammates) are going through the same learning at the same time. Training is dependent upon the trainer being able to deliver the content needed to create change in each person. This is typically done in a group setting, however there are many options now of online, on-demand, training available. If you are in a group, that will increase the rate of change, as groups tend to drive accountability after the training has ended. Training will be specific content that is delivered, and therefore will speak to each person and their circumstances differently. The success of training lies within the follow-through of each individual, or if given within an organization, the accountability and follow-through by the leader. Training is considered the 2nd best option for producing change within a person, team, or organization. Summary: Administered by expert to a group, provides some level of accountability, medium change rate.
Finally, we have Coaching as a learning option. Coaching is a highly over-used and misunderstood term. We tend to think of a coach in the context of a sports context - a team of players running around on a field, the coach teaching and telling them what to do and blowing the whistle when compliance doesn't happen. Or we think about 1-on-1 time with an expert where they teach us a particular skill. The learning option of coaching that I'm referring to is a bit different. It can be done in a group or with an individual, although individual is most common. The coach is typically an expert in the area, but honestly doesn't have to be in order to effectively provide coaching. For instance, I would not have to have served in an executive role with an organization in order to effectively coach an executive, so long as I have the understanding of how to effectively coach someone. Coaching is principally about change. It is about the coach asking specific types of questions in a specific format, allowing the participant to develop a higher level of emotional intelligence and conscious awareness. In business, coaching is a leadership behavior that lies at the opposite end of the spectrum to command and control, and in effect addresses the whole person, not just ‘the role’ and business issues. The coaching partnership between the coach and the person being coached, makes every alliance uniquely designed to serve only the success of the participant. The process is diverse and expansive. It can cover a breadth of issues, such as dealing with the immediate obstacles that are preventing growth, personal communication and impact as well as building the vision and plan against a life or business dream and goal. The context is to allow people to learn rather than teach them, and the assumption is that the answers to our problems lie within each one of us, we just don't know how to access the answers, which is what the professional coach is trained to do. Summary: Facilitated by coach, provides a personal and high level of accountability structure, produces highest level of change.
I hope that the next time you have an area you want to change in your life or within your organization, this will help guide you to what is the best learning option for your individual situation. They all have their place and their value.
If you're ready to se