I recently finished my first 30 days in a new role. In reflecting back on such a short space of time I’m struck by what I have learned. The scale of information I’ve absorbed, interpreted and played back has been exhausting and at times stressful. It’s been a long time since I stepped out of my comfort zone but in the last month I have been worried, at times lost confidence and felt swamped and yet I have rapidly progressed.

President Harry Truman famously said, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’ – given that his tenure spanned some of the most testing times in US Presidential history, I agree. BUT what if his metaphor was more about him and his love of the heat. What if getting burned could actually be good for you. This got me thinking…

I turned to the work of Dr Marla Gottshalk, an industrial and organisational psychologist and a popular one – she has 1.5 million Linkedin followers. In a recent post she highlighted some of the following ways to up your game,

  • Seek broad experiences and “challenge assignments”.
  • Develop a deep knowledge of your industry and its current experts.
  • Push yourself. Get up when you fall. Alter your course. Rebound.
  • Be aware of the competencies you may require ahead of the “disruption curve“.
  • Continue to learn.
  • Grow.

I particularly like ‘push yourself, get up when you fall, alter your course and rebound’ But as a pragmatist and given that most of us can’t change jobs regularly, how would this work in a conventional business? i.e can can we create hot kitchens?

With this in mind, a colleague recommended I read ‘An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Development Organisation’ by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laslow Lacey. The authors set out to understand why a number of companies were growing their profits at a rate not seen in conventional business. The following methods were among those employed,

  • Employees were moved into roles for which they were not ready to succeed
  • The leadership took turns in leading, coaching and mentoring each other and their teams
  • Group problem solving and the use of radical candour

This book is pretty radical and the methods aren’t for the faint hearted. There is an under current of pain+reflection = progress and given none of us like to feel uncomfortable by choice and pain and vulnerability are not emotions we encourage at work, it may feel a little far fetched. BUT if they lead to the kind of personal growth needed to meet the demands of digital disruption then maybe it’s time to reconsider.

If we’re to truly innovate, disrupt, grow and remain resilient we have to embrace the complexity of human emotion. Here’s a few suggestions for your own development if your organisation isn’t quite there yet,

  • Find a development mate e.g ask, ‘what did that experience bring up for you? what would you do different next time?’
  • Create a 360 feedback group with your team e.g ask, ‘as someone who knows what could I be doing differently what might make me more effective?’
  • Spend time with or observing those who model development behaviours e.g actively support, invest and promote others