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The Executive's Playbook for Personal and Professional Growth

Mar 22 2023
The Executive's Playbook for Personal and Professional Growth

The Executive's Playbook for Personal and Professional Growth  :Over the last two decades, we have worked with countless executives, helping them grow and scale their businesses while building high-performing teams. Through my experience, we have learned that to scale a business, the people running it must also evolve and grow. If not, the business will quickly hit limits and ceilings. 

In many early-stage companies, the executives running them often lack deep experience in critical areas needed for growth. The founding team is still learning and evolving their skills and depth of knowledge in the domain. While this is good in the beginning, when things are moving quickly, as you scale, you need expertise and depth as well. 

Here are three critical questions that executives must ask themselves to evolve and plan their professional development to create the best leadership team and keep people engaged and motivated throughout the growth process. 

  1. Cracking the Code of Engagement: How to Stay Motivated and Productive 

The first step in evolving as an executive is to identify what drives engagement. What do you enjoy doing that keeps you engaged and continuously challenges you? It's more than just liking something. You need to be driven and compelled to get better at it over time to maintain your focus over the long term. 

Start by writing down all the tasks and work that you do. Then think about when and how you engage in that work. Identify the three to five things that you notice a high degree of engagement in. Look for activities where you lose track of time or tend to push off other tasks, even basic needs like eating, to spend more time doing them. Find those activities where you're entirely engrossed in the work and forget about everything else. 

If you can't find any obvious activities, start carving out a little more time and focus on the ones that you're most curious about and notice what happens. Do you become more curious or get bored quickly and want to move on? 

Engagement is essential for success in any profession, and it's especially critical for executives. When you're engaged in your work, you're more productive, creative, and effective. However, it's not always easy to identify what drives engagement. You might enjoy a task, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's engaging or challenging enough to keep you interested over the long term. 

One way to identify what drives engagement is to look for tasks or projects that allow you to use your strengths. When you're using your strengths, you're more likely to be engaged and perform at your best. You might also find that you're more engaged in tasks that align with your values or that have a clear purpose. 

Another way to identify what drives engagement is to pay attention to your emotions. When you're engaged in your work, you're likely to experience positive emotions like excitement, pride, or satisfaction. On the other hand, if you're not engaged, you might feel bored, frustrated, or disinterested. 

It's important to note that engagement can change over time. What drives engagement now might not be the same as what drives engagement in the future. It's essential to stay curious and open to new experiences and opportunities that can help you stay engaged and challenged. 

  1. Playing to Your Strengths: How to Identify What You're Really Good At 

Identifying what drives engagement is essential, but it's not enough to create value. To be a professional, you need to be good at it too. Look for things where you get lots of positive feedback and that people ask you to do frequently. If possible, get more feedback from colleagues and bosses about what they see as valuable skills and contributions. You don't need to be a world expert on something, but you want to be seen as having a high degree of skill and performance. 

Identifying what you're good at is crucial for success as an executive. When you're doing something that you're good at, you're more likely to be confident, effective, and fulfilled. However, it's not always easy to identify your strengths. Sometimes, we're too close to ourselves to see what we're good at, or we're too self-critical to acknowledge our strengths. 

One way to identify your strengths is to pay attention to what comes naturally to you. What do you do effortlessly, without much effort or thought? What tasks or projects do you complete quickly and efficiently? These can be good indicators of your strengths. 

Focus on what other people think you're good at, not just your own assessment. Sometimes, we're too self-critical and know too much. You may feel like you don't know what you're doing or know that there is much more to learn, but someone not educated in the field may see you as brilliant. It's more about what others think, not just what you think. 

Another way to identify your strengths is to ask for feedback. Ask your colleagues, bosses, or mentors what they think you're good at. What do they see as your unique talents or contributions? This can be a valuable way to gain insight into your strengths and get a more objective view of your abilities. 

It's also important to remember that your strengths can change over time. As you gain experience and knowledge, you might discover new strengths or develop existing ones further. It's important to stay curious and open to new opportunities that can help you develop and leverage your strengths. 

  1. From Good to Great: Identifying Your Unique Capabilities for Career Success 

Lastly, find the things that nobody else can do like you can. If everyone else is also going at something, there is little room for differentiation or to be seen as a unique resource. You want to find something that you enjoy, that you're good at, AND that nobody else can do. Identifying what you can do that nobody else can is essential for success as an executive. When you have a unique skillset or perspective, you're more likely to be in demand and able to command higher compensation. However, it's not always easy to identify what sets you apart from others. 

If you can't find anything unique right away, start looking for ways to combine skills and experiences to create valuable and unique capabilities. Perhaps you're excellent at contract law, minored in environmental studies in college, and are a hobbyist rock collector. Can you combine them to focus on contracts involving public land use for mining and forestry? 

One way to identify your unique value proposition is to look for intersections between your skills, experiences, and passions. For example, if you're an expert in marketing and also have a passion for sustainability, you might be able to develop a unique niche in sustainable marketing. 

Another way to identify your unique value proposition is to look for gaps in the market. What skills or perspectives are missing in your industry or niche? Can you develop expertise in these areas and become a unique resource for companies and clients? 

It's important to remember that developing a niche takes time and effort. You might need to invest in additional education or training, or you might need to develop new skills or perspectives. However, the payoff can be significant, both in terms of career success and personal fulfillment.  

Developing a niche is an excellent way to become highly sought-after and highly compensated. Don't be afraid to carve out a unique domain. Just make sure there are at least a handful of people and companies who genuinely need that expertise. 

In conclusion, scaling your business requires scaling your people. As an executive, you need to