Many years ago there was a leader and queen of the country of Sheba. As the ruler, she had many people and resources under her command. But rather than simply take pleasure in her obvious wealth, she pondered how to better lead her people, and how to handle the challenges of her country. Someone told her about another leader named Solomon who was the king of Israel. Solomon was known to be very wise and might be able to help her figure out how to manage some of the problems she was dealing with.
She must have been very concerned, frustrated, maybe even desperate to find a better approach to her leadership issues, because she planned a major trip to visit him and talk about it. Sheba gathered the currency of her country (many camels carrying spices, gold and precious stones), and along with numerous servants, traveled to meet with Solomon.
When she arrived and sat down to talk with him, the understanding she gained was overwhelming. The advance reports of his wisdom didn’t even come close to matching her actual experience. Solomon not only understood her issues, he answered every question she had. His perspective and wisdom were so very great that he became a valuable consulting resource for her. She observed his leadership style and capabilities, the engagement of his employees, his organizational culture, and the mission and focus of his team. Solomon’s perceptiveness was so helpful to her in leading her country more effectively that she gave him an abundance of the expensive gifts that she had brought.
While it’s difficult to measure her gifts in the context of her overall wealth, we do know that it was the best of her country’s resources, because no one else ever gave him such costly spices in so great a volume as she did. And in return, Solomon gave her all that she asked for.
Here was a leader, someone already accomplished enough to lead a large organization, but who recognized the need and opportunity to learn more. She knew that she had to continually improve her competencies to more effectively build relationships to influence her team, and accomplish her organization’s goals and objectives. She yearned to talk with someone else who understood leadership challenges and would support her in her initiatives. The queen’s perspective on the resources she devoted to this was not about cost, but about making an investment in her own growth, that would pay off in many ways in the long run.
Where Is Your Investment?
Popular business magazines are dispensing financial advice for 2016 with a focus on how to make more money. They’re providing articles on all sorts of investments, tax reduction strategies, hot stock picks and diversification tactics. But there are other resource allocation decisions that are important to make as well. The priority is investing in yourself, growing your own skills and abilities. Fortunately, this is an area of growth where you don’t typically lose what you’ve gained; you simply continue to build upon it. No one can take it away from you.
So my leadership investment advice for 2016 is to…
Identify your personal and professional goals in the context of your life purpose. That’s the big “Why am I here?” question. Even as you’re discovering your path and purpose, take stock of the capabilities you have and those you need to gain to get to your sweet spot. This is a classic “learning gap” that applies to each of us at every level of our leadership journey. The bigger your goal and the wider the gap, the more resources (time and money) you’ll need to devote to closing it.
Invest in improving your leadership skills by committing to coaching, classes, books, leadership discussions and practical application in your work environment. Seek out individuals who are experts in areas where you need to grow, and learn from their experiences. Make a similar investment in your team to ensure that there’s alignment with individual and group goals, and support them in building the right skills to meet your organizational objectives. While you may initially find the price to be greater than you anticipated, you’ll soon learn the value of investing in the future.
Diversify your leadership capabilities to ensure that your personal skills portfolio includes not only the generally required leadership traits (results orientation, strategic planning, decision making, political savvy). Make sure it also includes the newer critical leadership skills required to be competitive in today’s fast moving economy such as driving innovation, leading change, and instilling creativity.
This isn’t about making a New Year’s resolution. It’s about making a commitment to your personal development in a way that will benefit others. It’s about making an investment in strategies that will drive growth and outcomes for success.
If a queen can make this important investment, so can you. Make an investment in you.