“The cobbler’s children have no shoes”

As a leader ancobblers-children-have-no-shoes-viralexplosions-comd leadership development professional, I find it so much easier to focus my efforts on the performance of others. My preference is to help those on my team, those leaders I work with directly, and our higher education system overall improve and develop! Yet, as the quote above suggests, we need to focus on our own performance and our own development. An important piece of knowing oneself, the leadership competency we are focusing on this month, is to take action, even when it feels uncomfortable.

So far this month we have talked about asking questions, using assessments and self-reflection to better understand ourselves. Self-knowledge is great, but it is just a starting point! For knowledge to improve our leadership we need to take action. Wait, you say, I take action all day! I am a busy leader responsible for a team, a department, a function, an organization. That is certainly how I feel; yet, an important part of self-knowledge is challenging ourselves to take action in spite of barriers. Some barriers are logistical and can be tackled through time-management. I believe that the barriers that inspired the quote in the title are more challenging and require a deeper self-assessment. Even asking, “What makes me uncomfortable about taking action on myself?”

For me, the answer to that question reminded me how much I value competence. This value of mine can get in my way when I need to take actions that challenge my competence and require me to risk being successful. Each of us has our own unique barriers to taking action. Yet to continue strengthening our own leadership performance we need to take that action!

My action starts tonight –  I will be moving from the front of the room to a seat in the room. I am going back to school and my first class starts tonight. It is a risk, and I am not sure how successful I will be, but I know that it is the action I need to take to continue on my leadership journey. I am sure you will hear more about what I am learning and stories that my fellow learners are sharing.

What can you do to break through a barrier, take action and “make your own shoes”?

Todd Thorsgaard


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