10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

By: Suzanne Qualia - Published on April 23rd, 2024

What is your first reaction when a team member asks you “How do I get promoted and how fast can that happen?” For many leaders I coach, it’s often a mixture of fear and trepidation (fight or flight). Those first thoughts that might go through your mind can include, “I don’t have an open role, how do I even have this conversation?” and “How do I have a conversation without creating frustration for both parties?”

If you have a fight or flight response when you are asked “How do I get promoted?” choose a calm and confident response instead. Engage in growth and development dialogs!

This month’s article provides the Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations, and Methods considerations that will lower your stress response and elevate your impact in these growth and development conversations. 

Meaning:

What would open up if the meaning of a “career conversation” shifted away from things like next role, next title and new pay and, instead, toward a growth and development dialog centered around questions like: “What does success look like when I’m maximizing skills development, motivation and bringing my whole self into this role?” and “When done well, over time,  that lays the foundation for growth into a next role, should that come about or happen?” 

How much pressure would that take off the situation and how would that change the conversation? Renaming the conversation from “career conversation” to “growth and development dialog” gives the brain permission to shift the focus and the outcomes! 

The focus of a growth and development dialog is best defined as a discovery, curiosity-focused conversation through the lens of a current or aspirational role. The discovery goal is the “sweet spot” where skills, motivation and personality create the greatest overlap, enabling high levels of engagement and true ongoing growth and development. 

  • Skills
    • Challenge – What will present new and exciting challenges for me?
    • Learning new skills – What new skills might these new challenges require me to learn?
  • Motivation
    • Purpose and meaning – What about the role fulfills purpose and meaning for me?
    • Happiness – What brings me joy?
  • Personality 
    • Right fit – How can I bring my uniqueness, strengths and core values into my role?
    • Authenticity – How can I show up as myself, and show my true colors in this role?

10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

Mindsets:

What mindsets might get in the way of executing growth and development dialogs? What new beliefs, attitudes and perspective might be more empowering? Let’s look at the most common factors.

OBSTACLE: No time – caught up in the short-term, here and now whirlwind.

Instead: How can I invest time and energy in the short-term to grow my team for longer-term benefits?

OBSTACLE: I don’t have an open role to promote someone into.

Instead: Maybe not right now, but that role will open up or evolve and then your team member will be ready!

OBSTACLE: We already have a performance management/goal setting process. 

Instead: Growth and development dialogs are not an EVENT, it is an on-going PROCESS with long-term benefits – holding space for this conversation only semi-annually or annually as part of the Performance Management process is not enough.

OBSTACLE: Combining INPUTS with the OUTCOMES, i.e. over simplified career conversation leads to career growth.

Instead: Separate the inputs and outcomes

  • Inputs – ongoing robust growth and development dialogs
  • Outcomes/measurement of success – natural career growth either in the current or aspirational role

OBSTACLE: Role confusion: “As a leader I’m wholly responsible and accountable for my team member’s growth and development (a big burden)!”

Instead: Separate the responsibilities and accountabilities for both parties to create success

  • Employee/team member: 
    • ACCOUNTABLE for their own growth and development by demonstrating: 
      • Participation and engagement in the process
      • A growth mindset, willingness, and patience
    • RESPONSIBLE to complete the work required to achieve the goal
      • Complete the development goal action items
  • Leader:
    • ACCOUNTABLE to provide the path and support for your team member’s growth and development by demonstrating:
      • Participation and engagement in the process
      • A growth mindset, willingness, and patience
    • RESPONSIBLE for:
      • Creating the space in your schedule for the on-going growth and development dialogs
      • Utilizing a coach approach (see last months’ blog article – Coach vs. Tell) across the three-part growth and development dialog (Methods)
      • Providing feedback where necessary to raise awareness on the gaps
      • Demonstrate a willingness to delegate projects and initiatives to your team members to provide growth opportunities

Motivations:

What might motivate you as a leader to upskill in this area? We’ll look at two ways to influence your thinking about this differently – a) data and logic, and b) emotional appeal. Another consideration is the overwhelming ROI proposition of this investment. 

Data and Logic: 

Although a bit dated, this study – (3) The Career Conversation Needs to Change – find out why… | LinkedIn – is the most powerful one I can reference. In all my work with leaders, I can anecdotally corroborate these numbers!

The study examined the views of 4,402 global employees between 25 and 55 to understand to what extent employers are helping them manage their careers. It found that less than one-third feel confident enough in their ability to initiate a conversation outside of annual performance reviews. The study uncovers major benefits of better career conversations, including:

  • 76% surveyed would feel more engaged in their work
  • 75% state they would be happier in the work they do
  • 68% say they would be more likely to share ideas
  • 68% are more likely to recommend their employer to a friend
  • 73% say they would be more likely to stay in the organization

Emotional appeal:

Some reflection questions you might consider relative to your role as a leader

  • What does it mean to be a leader? 
  • What is your leadership vision? 
  • What outcomes are you wanting to achieve for you, your team and your organization by assuming this leadership role?
  • What is the most valuable contribution of leadership?

ROI of engaging in Growth and Development dialogs:

  • What is your investment as a leader?
    • Your time – step out of the whirlwind for a second to invest in something bigger.
    • Fulfillment of your leadership vision and “stepping into the level of your license.”
  • What is your and your teams’ return on that investment? 
    • Note the data cited in the earlier study. What would those percentage increases in engagement, happiness, idea sharing, and retention translate to for you specifically and your organization overall? 
    • Employees will feel heard, seen and valued as a result of having meaningful growth and development dialogs. This unleashes new levels of creativity, innovation and productivity. 

Methods:

  1. Coach yourself through a growth and development dialog as a test drive! No matter what current internal goal setting, performance management, growth and development dialog process is currently being utilized, the Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations and Methods described in this article can provide stronger foundational inputs to that process. The form and format aren’t as critical as the inputs.
  2. Craft the questions around each of the areas we are covering that resonate with you, how you’d ask the questions, and the team member you are working with.
  3.  Separate tactical 1:1 meetings and growth and development dialogs! Set up meetings dedicated to this ongoing process. The tactical, project updates and whirlwind will always overshadow the longer term, less-urgent-but-more-important growth and development conversations.
  4. Follow this three-part growth and development dialog format for your conversation – define success, assess the gaps, and close the gaps.

10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

Define Success

It sounds simple enough, but this is the most frequently skipped part of the conversation and without it, there’s no foundation for further robust development planning. From a time allocation perspective, this process of visualizing new outcomes, strategizing a new future, and defining what “great” would look like might take longer for you and your team member, especially if this space is unfamiliar for one or both of you. 

The goal in this part of the conversation is for your team member to “think big” and think beyond their current situation; you want them to think about what could be possible in terms of fulfillment, purpose and outcomes in their role, irrespective of what’s currently happening today. This isn’t a place to examine anything relative to current performance, current skill gaps, etc. (that comes in the next step). This is their chance to go “wild” with their vision!

  • What does success look like in your current role? 
  • If you had a magic wand, what impact would you be having, what outcomes would you be creating when you’re at your best in your current role?
  • To achieve the strategy, vision and outcomes, what things would someone be saying or doing?
  • Bring in the Skills/Motivation/Personality questions from the “Meaning” section of this article. 

Assess the Gaps

Here’s where you first bring in and examine the current state. The overall goal of this section of the conversation is to identify and answer the questions, “What is keeping me from achieving my vision of success? What things am I doing or not doing, saying or not saying, stepping into or avoiding that are holding me back from achieving that vision?”

For those team members who lack self-awareness in these areas, here are some ideas for both formal and informal feedback:

Formal Feedback:

  • Gallup data
  • 360 assessments
  • Hogan Personality Assessment

Informal Feedback:

  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Peer feedback
  • Leader feedback
  • Self-reflection: What are my strengths/challenge areas?

Compare the definition of success for your current or aspirational role with the feedback you have or you’ve solicited. What gaps did you discover related to your ability to consistently perform the HOW and WHAT aspects of success?

Close the Gaps 

Create a Leadership Development Plan (LDP) or an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

What 2-3 development goals will help close the gap(s) between the definition of success and the feedback you’ve solicited from others or your own self-reflection? What areas will elevate your impact the most?

You are now ready to start crafting your LDP/IDP utilizing a 70%/20%/10% ratio model that creates the foundation for true behavior and habit change.

In conclusion, the payoffs for avoiding the “fight or flight” response when asked “how do I get promoted” are huge. Your upskilling in this space can enable higher levels of innovation, motivation, engagement and the ability for your team to continue to outpace their objectives achieving greater results.

Next month’s post will pick it up from this point (closing the gaps) and be dedicated to the LDP or IDP planning process. Holding the space and executing a robust growth and development dialog is the critical input to the successful creation of the LDP/IDP as the output. Both are needed for career growth as the outcome!

If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your growth and development focused coaching skills, click here: https://calendly.com/qualia-inc/30min. Let’s do this!