I had a wonderful time in San Antonio, Texas recently at a leadership development seminar and conference. This is my 4th year attending this event and it’s one of the professional development activities I participate in each year to grow my skills as a master certified coach and to network with other like-minded professionals. (Can you find me in this picture taken by Doug Ellis in this swarm of executive coaches?)
photo by Doug Ellis
Why should you go to Leadership Development Seminars? Many of the senior level individuals I coach tell me they are so busy that they don’t have time to go to industry events or conferences. I too feel busy and my to-do list is never ending, however as Steven Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” says, we must prioritize activities that are important but not urgent. We know theoretically how important it is to get out of our offices, away from our desks, and network with others but do we make enough time for our own leadership development? I strongly believe the benefits of immersing ourselves professionally away from the office, far outweighs the challenges of being away from work for a few days. Consider these five benefits for yourself and see if participating in a professional leadership development seminar might be worth your while.
1. Get an outsider’s perspective on some of your most pressing challenges.
Thinking about something by ourselves just brings us back to what we already know and does not give us a new perspective. None of us can observe ourselves in action. We actually need outside advice to stimulate our thinking. I’m currently writing a book and am at a crossroads deciding whether to go the traditional publishing route or self publish. I met a number of authors at the recent leadership development seminar I attended that gave me advice and helped me see the pros and cons that I was not aware of since I have never written a book.
2. Develop a network that you can re-connect with once you return to work.
An outside network can be invaluable. New people, new ideas, and access to a whole new network, theirs! A few years ago, I met a wonderful talented woman at a leadership development workshop and she and I now work together providing Strategic Decision Making and Mastering the Art of High Stakes Conversations leadership workshops to managers in corporations. I might not have met her if I had not gone to that workshop and talked about a current business challenge I was facing. (If you want info on either of these, email me mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Develop a connection that might help you with future employment.
You may or may not be looking for a new job at the moment, but you never know when you might be or when someone you know might be. The more connections we have the better we are positioned when the time is right to make a move. I’m not looking for a job myself, as I am happily self-employed, but I did just hire a marketing person who was a referral from someone I met at a leadership development conference. You never know who you might meet that might know someone looking for just your skill set.
4. Step back, sort through, think creatively, reflect, re-invent and experience work from a whole new perspective.
This is one of my favorite reasons for attending leadership development seminars and conferences. I can think bigger and more creatively once I get away from my desk where the day-to-day issues and challenges rule my days. I came back from CAM a few weeks ago with an idea to develop video descriptions of my Leadership University seminars on my website, which I can easily film at the TV studio where I produce my monthly cable show. It’s sort of a no-brainer but it had not occurred to me until someone else was talking about using videos in their business. I also met 4 colleagues that are interested in forming a traveling mastermind group and we decided we are going to start our group by taking a tour of Zappos and then brainstorm how we can take what we learned back into our businesses. New perspectives are priceless!
5. Learn something that changes your life (in a good way!).
As you can see I go to these leadership development seminars and workshops with big intentions for myself. Why not discover something that makes a huge difference for me personally or professionally, or both!? This year, I had a deep learning about who I am and how I want to be in the world whether I am at work or not. I discovered that I am someone who is inspired about thinking of myself as “Serenely Ambitious”. (A special shout out and thanks to Jim Selman, an expert in the field of organizational transformation and change, who coined this phrase, which I have now made my own). I love this phrase as it covers both sides of me that I am cultivating and celebrating. One side of me that is at peace, happy, and present and the other that is materially solid and driven towards success, but not at the expense of being spiritually bankrupt. I am learning to accept that all is perfect and unfolding in my world even if I am uncertain where it might lead, and at the same time I am committed to a larger possibility for myself and others and being constantly dissatisfied. Serene Ambition will be one of my leadership practices for this year as I strive to become masterful over time.
Float Your Boat. You never know what you might learn about yourself or your business until you get away from it. Think about attending a leadership development training workshop, program or conference this year as a professional or personal gift to yourself. Find something that looks like it has the possibility to really float your boat. Maybe it’s something you want to learn more about or something you want to immerse yourself in, or maybe its something completely new to take yourself out of your box.
A couple of years ago, I attended something out of the box for me, a course called Entrepreneurial Thought and Action run by Charlie Kiefer of Innovation Associates and Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College. It rocked. I learned a lot about running entrepreneurial ventures, which came in handy while I was starting The Magic Parties, (an organization of women supporting women to make their next bold moves) and I made some wonderful new friends and colleagues, including Len and Charlie.
If you are someone who is interested in exploring your next bold move professionally, might I shamelessly suggest a workshop I am conducting on November 2nd, “Your Next Bold Move Business Workshop.” It just might get your juices flowing and your actions aligned with what you really want professionally.
Be conscious and deliberate about what and how you are stretching yourself professionally and personally. We all need to re-assess where we are, what we want, and how the heck we’re going to get there. Where will your next bold move be?