Personal Development through Care & Growth

Personal development is a tricky thing when your days are filled with work, errands, kids, family and friends. When does one get the time to put some effort into doing something for themselves? A good place to start is where you spend a lot of your time – work.

Last weekend we went on a day trip by car, and as it happened, we stopped at a nice place for a milkshake. Before we went back on the road, I went to the ladies’ room and there was a poster on the wall, saying: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe” I found this very profound and very useful!

Development with Care & Growth

Leadership Excellence at Schuitema is built around the concept of Care & Growth. It can be summarized as this: it is the job of the leader to care for his/her subordinates and help them grow. As Care & Growth is their actual job, rather than the result, the leader’s concern is to enable excellent people. This is true for leaders on all levels of a hierarchy.

A question I get, almost every time I present or train Leadership Excellence is as follows: “Our higher management is not concerned with anything but the result. That is all they ask for. And they certainly don’t care for me or help me to grow. So how can I then be expected to do Care & Growth for my subordinates?”

I am the first one to agree that everything is easier when the whole line of management is on the train. If your top management lives, gives and asks for Care & Growth throughout the organization, that is of course the best! But if they don’t, let’s not become victims and give up. Instead refer back to the quote in the beginning: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Where does Personal Development fit in?

YOU can do Care & Growth for your subordinates, even if you don’t get if from your own leaders. Your doing Care & Growth anyway (and expecting that from your subordinates if they are leaders in their position) will help both your subordinates and yourself to feel and perform better. It may not directly lead to a transformation of the leadership of the whole company, but as always, you can contribute and improve what is at hand for you.

To explore this further, let us take a look at what Care & Growth in leadership actually is. It comes back to the core of the Intent thematic, which is the Intent. In each situation, you have a choice: you can either see what you can get out of the situation (“What’s in it for me?”) or you can see what the situation needs (“How can I contribute here?”).

If you try to get something out of the situation, that is what we call a taker’s behaviour (you can check out the video clip  “why self interest is not in your interest”  to learn more about where that leads to). But I can tell you in short, that on the taker’s side is not where we want to operate!

If you on the other hand try to see what the situation needs and from there contribute, that is a giver’s behaviour. Being on the givers’ side of things leads to a lot of good. Not the least to feeling a lot better in your own skin (as explained in the above mentioned video clip). But giving must not be confused with being nice. It is about being appropriate. And sometimes that appropriacy calls for giving tough feedback, saying NO and other courageous actions.

The leap of faith

Giving is concerned with being appropriate. This means acting either with generosity or courage, depending on the situation. In leadership, generosity is translated into care, and courage into Growth. So, Care & Growth is an application of generosity and courage.

The intent to contribute with generosity and courage applies everywhere. And you are accountable for your own contribution. You can keep your own yard clean, even if you live in a sloppy area. You can keep your own thoughts clean even if people are gossiping around you. You can refrain from doing things that are expedient and wrong, even if people around you do so. This is because others’ misbehaviour is not an excuse for any misbehaviour on your own part. Each one of us is accountable for our own intent and the corresponding actions.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

To read more on the Care & Growth model, please buy the book, Leadership: The Care & Growth Model

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