Purposeful Talent Development: Don’t wait to be told where to go

Some people don’t learn if the pathway isn't fully clear; but you can—and should—take the initiative in addition to looking for support.

In November, I had the opportunity to facilitate a breakout session at our CEO/Executive Team Network. While discussing the impact senior leaders have on talent development, an attendee brought up a puzzling situation, “When development opportunities are offered, people don’t step up to take advantage. Why?”

In large part, it’s because much of our previous education in life has been directed. Despite having “electives,” anyone that has attended any formal education has for the most part been told where, when and what to learn. We must complete a standard set of classes to graduate from high school. For any post-secondary education, there is a plan for the type and timing of courses you need to complete to earn a degree.

The idea that we will be told what we should learn next is ingrained in us and is a reason many people don’t jump at the chance to learn–and also why many ask for a roadmap. Moving away from this mindset that learning must be fully prescribed requires conscious thought and striking a balance between getting help from others and owning your own learning.


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