A new year has begun. Many people have started it with high hopes and promises for a better year, better decisions, better life choices, and a “better me”. Gyms are filling up with people wanting to make a change, only for some to discover in a month or two that it was all good intentions, but lacking in execution. People come up with excuses why they can no longer go: lack of time, lack of money, lack of motivation, lack of support. Some excuses may well enough be valid reasons (like a broken leg), but some seem to be just excuses that people create for themselves. We are good at making up excuses.
In the past 6 months I have been talking to nearly 200 executives, leaders, and specialists in different areas of business about leadership development and their own aspirations and plans to develop themselves. I have gained a better view on the current challenges that leaders across Finland are currently facing, and an interesting insight into how leadership development is handled in different organizations. I have spoken to leaders in multinational corporations with thousands of employees and leaders in small family businesses with just a handful of people. Companies that were founded over a 100 years ago and companies, that are in the start-up phase. There are leaders who I believe are truly inspirational and leaders who make me worry for the people in their companies, based on what I have heard about the organizational cultures or the attitudes of those leaders. There seem to be a lot of excuses.
Here are some of the answers to my question on why leaders and companies feel that there is no need to develop themselves or their people:
- “My company does not invest in leadership development, or any kind of people development.”
- “I would be ready to develop myself, but my manager thinks I cannot, as my children are too young.”
- “I work in a small family run company and they will not invest in leadership development as they fear people would leave the company as a result.”
- “I cannot develop myself now due to time management: there is a new project to lead this year, a new team to lead, a promotion to a new position with new responsibilities, lots of travel required, many important meetings to attend every week, a house building project, young children at home… “
- “It’s probably too late to develop myself as I am old and experienced and will retire soon.”
- “I am not interested in developing myself, there is absolutely no need.”
Are these good excuses or bad reasons? Bad excuses or good reasons?
I personally salute the leaders who are taking steps and making continuous efforts to develop themselves further, whichever the means are. I also salute the organizations that believe in leadership development and continuously invest in their people. Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with a CEO of a growing company. The company has a culture where they truly believe in developing their people at all levels in the organization and a culture where people have the opportunity to grow and to flourish. Most importantly, they are also having fun. There are no excuses to prevent development and no reasons why the people would not want to.
Inspired by yesterday’s conversation, I invite everyone to take a moment and think about: “What will I do already today to make me become a better version of me?”
You don’t have to be sick to get better. No excuses.