“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – attributed to John Dewey
What work experiences best prepared you for your current leadership role? Last week, my colleague Todd and I asked this question of leaders who are advising us on a new leadership development program. The program is designed to build the pipeline for selected C-suite positions in Minnesota State colleges and universities.
The discussion that ensued was a fruitful one. It got me thinking about how important it is that as leaders we reflect on our own development so that we are more effective in our current roles. In my experience, challenging or new work experiences have offered up the most opportunities for growth. My first big managerial role right out of college taught me much about team building as I supervised a staff of 30 at a resort hotel in Montana. Another experience working with multiple institutions across the country and educational associations in Washington, D.C. taught me about partnership, collaboration, and the importance of strategic communication.
In thinking about your work experiences, here are a few questions for you to ponder:
- What work experience was the most challenging for you? What did you learn from it?
- What work experience stretched you most in your career?
- How might you challenge yourself to learn and grow in your current role?
- Are there assignments or projects you can take on that will require you to learn new skills or information?
- How might you develop stretch assignments for your team members that will help them grow?