Byron's Babbles

Professional Growth Puzzle

imagesIt never ceases to amaze me how when reading a book with 52 weekly lessons, how each week can somehow be related to something in my weekly leadership journey. This week is no exception. Lesson #18 in The Disciplined Leader (2015) by John M. Manning was titled “Write Your Professional Development Plan.” I am a firm believer that personal professional growth must be personal. In fact I blogged about this back in 2011 back in 2011 after being a part of reimagining 21st century education with the Pearson Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to read Autonomy – Professional Growth Must Be Personal.

At the completion of our January Focused Leader Academy session yesterday I had a teacher ask me if at the end of the program in June if I would be doing an evaluation of each participant to see where they were as a leader and what they still needed to work on. Honestly, I had not given that a lot of thought yet, but my answer was: “I hadn’t thought about that yet, but yes that must happen.” Then I told her that part of that would have to be developing a personal professional growth plan. As I explained to her, leaders must own their own professional growth and she would need to continue to take responsibility for it. It is simply ludicrous to think that any organization can provide every piece of professional develop that every individual needs. As Manning (2015) pointed out, “having a professional development plan— a blueprint for where we want to go, what we want to be, and the steps we need to take to achieve it— can make the difference between professional fulfillment and failure (Kindle Location 1053-1055).” Now, it is part of mine and the organization’s responsibility to help mentor this teacher leader and help her to develop her plan. That is really an important part of the Focused Leader Academy. img_1643-1

Our knowledge base is growing so quickly that individuals will no longer be able to think in terms of career education, but rather of a lifetime of multiple careers. It is the job of the organization to assist its employees in coping with this rapid change. The organization must be prepared to help its employees avoid the erosion of their skills and the onset of individual obsolescence. This is such an important concept as a believer that every person must lead from where they are. A professional development effort is most effective when it is integrated in the organization and internalized by the participant. It is why our Focused Leadership Projects are such an important part of our Focused Leader Academy.

“Even leaders with the best of intentions often do not realize the dramatic impact they can exert by being a role model or by providing guidance to employees seeking new paths to career satisfaction.” ~ Beverly L. Kaye

I appreciated this reminder of how important it will be for each of our teacher leaders to develop a professional growth plan. I will need to help mentor each participant and provide feedback. But… the plan will need to be owned by each individual. As Manning (2015) taught us, “Disciplined Leaders have been self-driven, lifelong learners who always put their goals down on paper and assigned a timeline with action steps for accomplishing those goals. They remained personally accountable to whatever they were pushing themselves to learn, do, or achieve (Kindle Locations 1065-1067).” In response to the original question of providing an evaluation – I prefer to call this feedback – I would posit that the feedback must be focused on behavior rather than on personality, that is based on observations rather than opinions, that is descriptive rather that judgmental. She will need for me to share ideas and information, that is specific about situations, and that is given at the appropriate time.

During the writing of this post I am reminded that in addition to taking responsibility for my own professional growth, I must also take personal responsibility for supporting the professional growth of all those I lead.


Manning, John (2015). The disciplined leader: Keeping the focus on what really matters. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.


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  1. […] This takes us back to the idea of personal growth I blogged about earlier this week. Click here to read “Professional Growth […]


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