Welcome back! Last week I discussed the achievement of professional competence, the first principle of leadership as I learned them in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Today’s topic is the second principle:
2 – Appreciate your own strengths and limitations and pursue self-improvement
(image from http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/training-prof-dev/index.page – DLEARN!!! – this is the online learning portal for the Canadian Armed Forces – distance education for the military)
Basically – realize you don’t know everything and you can’t be good at everything. It is important to be humble, and understand your limits, and find ways to improve where possible. Even though you will have achieved professional competence after reading the first post in this series, you never, ever know everything and you can always keep learning and improving, no matter what you do or how and who you lead.
This principle needs to be practiced on a continuous basis. It is necessary to conduct self reflection frequently, and be open to other’s comments and constructive feedback. It is also important to seek help in improving – find and develop relationships with mentors.
Keep in mind that skills and knowledge aren’t the same thing. Knowledge can be gained somewhat easily – so if you find an area of knowledge you are lacking in, research, study, reading or coursework can remedy that. Skills take practice – you can’t read your way into being better at marksmanship, navigation, or driving – you will need to practice. Make sure you assess knowledge AND skill gaps, and remedy them appropriately.
Remember, there will be things you are never good at due to talent, time, and the reality of life. Accept these limitations and move on. Find those in your team who can help fill those gaps so you can still accomplish your mission or task.