True Career Growth

2019-10-21

Last week, I discussed the Know stage, and I alluded to how it leads nicely into the third stage. I call this stage Grow. But after some feedback on the original presentation, I realized that may not be sufficiently descriptive. Through the stages one is already growing. The difference in this stage, if that you are now facilitating the growth of others. It may help to think of the stages as a spectrum of focus. You start focusing mostly on self, and in the Do stage. Progressing to the right, you have the Know stage, where you are still working on you, but have the opportunity to start focusing on others. As we near the right end of the spectrum, you find Grow, which pushes your focus further outward. In the Grow stage, you are now cheifly valued for who you can grow.

I remember in the Do stage, I had to perform many tasks that I disliked. They were tedious, repetitive, and not really engaging. Though I don't remember when I made the choice, I shifted my mindset about them. Rather than just slog through them, I decided to automate as many as I could. When my supervisors asked me why, I explained that I figured I'd just automate myself out of a job. All cheek aside, I was quite serious. I felt that if I could automate the jobs then I would create the space to take on more interesting tasks. As my career progressed, I found it was a sound bet to make. This same idea plays out in the Grow stage.

Now, I have only just touched on this stage, after all each stage boundary overlaps with the next. So I cannot speak to where the total of the stage leads. But I have found an intentional focus on developing soft-skills was necessary for me. Over the last 2 years, I have made a deliberate study of anything I could count as 'leadership'. Delegation, Coaching, Culture-building, and even advise-giving all came up. As I studies these topics, I found a unifying theme for the Grow stage.

The theme was 'releasing control'. As a self-professing control-freak, realizing that hurt. Just take Delegation for example. The dictionary definition is 'the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities'. The Grow stage is fraught with moments of 'letting go'. Discussions on Delegation from EntreLeaderhship, helped open my eyes to the idea. But the detailed discussions of 'Trusted Adviser' helped me really grasp it.

I want to take a moment to discuss a pitfall I've seen play out in the Know stage. It is a natural desire to have esteem. We naturally esteem those who are highly skilled in an area we value. This is a good a natural thing, but how one reacts to that esteem turns you down one of two paths. Some accept , and appreciate it, but do not make it the sole focus of their actions. These transition more smoothly into the Grow stage.

The other reaction is craving. Esteem feels good, and as you grow in the Know stage, your colleagues begin to rely on you. After all you've become the expert. This ends up being a double edged sword. Tasks are often given to the expert, because that's who they are. But these tasks end up crowding out the opportunity for other work. This is the pitfall. You can dig yourself so deeply into an expert role, that your team can't afford to let you spend time on anything else.

But fear not, seeing the trap is half the battle. It can feel uncomfortable to loosen control. It takes trust and risk to truly empower and grow others. But we all know, growth comes with discomfort. Don't shy away from it, you'll find new opportunities and horizons opening up to you. While the model for Do-Know-Grow is useful, it is by no means complete. Is there anything you'd add? What are your thoughts? Shoot me an email, let's discuss!