When I was growing up, there was a strong focus on intelligence quotient (IQ) in the school system. I remember taking IQ tests, but I don’t ever remember knowing the results. These tests seemed to be utilized to measure an individual’s mental agility and ability during my generation (it may still be widely used today, I am not sure). It was also used to predict or determine future success of individuals. As a leader in todays world, I can tell you that I place very little value on IQ. I am more focused on an individuals level of emotional quotient (EQ), social quotient (SQ), and adversarial quotient (AQ). Most people are not familiar with these quotients and are not equipped with the tools to to be successful in these areas. It is unfortunate, actually, because I believe that they are more important than IQ levels when determining or predicting our success in adulthood and our careers.
I focus on staff (personal and professional) development in these areas during my assignments. Because it is such a foreign concept in many places, the response is usually apprehension and/or doubt in the beginning. This is okay. I only ask that everyone stay curious. This mindset allows for questions as well as a time for them to seek answers and do their own research. They often bring back valuable perspective and information that I may not have considered!
Personal growth is hard. It can be more painful than those “growing pains” that we all encountered during our rapid physical growth periods. The discomfort of stretching tendons and muscle along with the lengthening of our bones is required for us to reach our adult height. Personal and professional growth requires us to be uncomfortable, too. We have to spend time outside of our comfort zone, self-reflecting, which is difficult. Becoming self-aware isn’t comfortable, either. Both of these are necessary to even begin the personal/professional growth journey. It’s not easy to see our own flaws and it can be difficult to realize the impact of the shadow that we have been casting around us. But when leadership provides a supportive environment where everyone can “struggle” as they grow, staff are able to reach levels of success that they may not have imagined was possible. It doesn’t take long to see positive results. I have seen improved communication and employee relationships within a few weeks time.
Most of the staff do not complete their personal/professional growth journey while I am on my short assignments, but the goal is to get them as far as I can while I am present and to “spark” their curiosity so that they continue to grow in my absence. I may be perceived as the “mean mama” at times due to my expectations (consider yourself fortunate if you had one as a child). “Mean mama’s” push their children into situations and watch them struggle so that they can learn. They don’t run to their rescue or remove obstacles from their path. This ensures that their children are able to adapt and adjust no matter what life brings them (especially when mama is no longer around). So as a leader, I always provide support as the staff work through their individual struggles, and I am always here to “pick them up when they fall”, but I feel that the struggle is an important and necessary part in growth, so I allow them that space as well. Hopefully someday, when they encounter unexpected obstacles in their path, they will appreciate the time that they spent with me and the time that I “prepared them for the road and not the road for them” (and maybe prepare someone else as well).