Closely related to Competence is the attribute of Growth Potential – can you grow in your skills and can you add new skills, not just tangible skills, but also intangible ones. Growth potential is one of the more important attributes and may be close to the top of my list. It also connects to the Behavior Framework and the Games People Play.
Simply put, Are you Change Seeking (and preferably not Change Adverse)? Have you demonstrated and embraced Continuous Learning (Fundamental principle 11)? If you think about it, change is inevitable. Like a bonsai tree, organizations and human beings must continually grow in some way to remain healthy. On a personal level you may stop growing physically, but you never stop growing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, unless you choose to stop. Or you choose to grow negatively, or regress. The latter is not desirable at all, but perhaps may be more comfortable since human beings seem to be the only organism that consciously makes this choice. On both the skills and critical thinking sides, acceptance of the need to grow is a desired attribute, because:
Growth is increase, a positive movement and improvement in your Able framework.
In life, in career, and in other activities, increased breadth and depth in Competence means you can add more value and the value you add is worth more. This makes you a Positive Sum (+∑) player. This also enables growth or increase in your Do level, what you are able to accomplish (the next higher level in your Behavior Framework), and it often necessitates growth through stretching on your Are level (the foundational level below it), in Values and Principles.
Why is this important? On many fronts. First of all, from the organizational side, changes in technology in process as well as product mean change (generally positive) is occurring in the market place and the organization that stands (is complacent) still will be displaced. As part of management in an organization, it is one of my responsibilities to be prepared to operate in this terrain. On a second level, organizational change (product and process) needs to be driven by employees who regard positive change as the growth in their competency that is needed to keep the organization alive and healthy. It is a major additional responsibility for me to manage this process. On a third level, eventually everyone above you in the organization will be replaced. Someone has to be ready to be moved up, based on tangible and intangible competence and demonstrated by growth. It is also one of my responsibilities to identify and develop these people (as well as being part of my own personal plan, which I hope includes being prepared to be one of those people who will be moving up).
What should your response be? There are multiple parts here.
First, determine to be a Continuous Learner, that is, Positive Change Seeking on a personal level. This is not only possessing an attitude to face change positively, but also actively seeking it (at the right speed). For an obvious situation, you should demonstrate a steep learning curve with new job responsibilities even if you do not encounter problems. For an unobvious one, you may also encounter situations that may not be problems but could benefit from a new approach that you do not yet know.
For tangible skills, what skills can you identify in your career path that are needed or required? Which ones are you more passionate and enthusiastic about? For intangible skills, be aware of how you are being stretched when you practice Critical Thinking skills. What areas are you strong in? What areas are you weaker in? Decide to expect to learn something new everyday, and don’t be close-minded about what it has to be or from whom you will learn it (Fundamental Principle 8: Observing is a choice).
Second, take the initiative and go actively pursue learning the things you have identified and developing competence in them (and figure out when you need to bring supervision alongside). Consciously practice these. Actively pursue ways to improve them and put them into practice. Look at same-old, same-old task responsibilities as opportunities to improve many other tangible and intangible skills. This is responding to Fundamental Principle 8. Later I will have some comments on how to approach this type of learning after finishing posting about career attributes.
In pursuing Continuous Learning you will learn how to make yourself appropriately dependable and indispensible. But don’t waste time trying to convince people that you are indispensible, let them observe and conclude it themselves. When it is their idea, it flies further. Focus on the health of the organization, not yourself.
Third, be forward looking, have a long-term plan. Expect to be recognized and/or eventually rewarded for demonstrated growth. Be content with your job (Do it well) but not satisfied with your career, yet. Be prepared to step up. Try to be innovative and creative in the areas you are strong and comfortable in. Demonstrate you are teachable (Fundamental Principle 8 again).
The first two attributes of Competence and Growth Potential can be brought together thus: Do you see (observe) problems and strive to learn from and understand them (learn), and discover (grow) in addition to imposing a solution. These are greatly sought after leadership traits, especially appreciated in GenY/Millennials (Switch and Shift, May 2013).
Put another way, your Continuous Learning is the process of investing in yourself, creating intangible wealth that you can draw from and take with you if/when you change careers. Priceless.
Next: Some Intangible Attitude Attributes