As a lab manager, you wouldn’t have reached this level of leadership without the benefit of intrinsic motivation, that fiery internal motivation to strive for more, to contribute more, to implement positive change. But if it is the inner fire, what is the fuel that feeds the fire? This is no different from the development strategies that leaders work so hard to provide to their staff, and their own leadership development is at the heart. To continue to strive, contribute and create change, leaders must have the opportunity to increase their knowledge, develop new skills and strengthen their own engagement. But, like most things, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way everyone approached development strategies for their staff and for themselves.
Zig Ziglar’s famous quote says: âThe only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them. Seeing good employees struggle and disengage, many managers become hyper focused on the needs of their staff and neglect their own goals and aspirations. While this is sometimes a necessary and admirable trait of a great leader, it comes at a cost. Effective leaders learn to replace the “or” with “and”. There are strategies to help leaders focus on their team and grow and move forward as well.
Without the option of a conference or travel, laboratory leaders must be creative in their personal development strategies. At the height of the pandemic, some organizations had the option of purchasing e-learning suites or converting their team development modules to digital format. However, it took time and money. As organizations struggled financially to cope with cutbacks in service and manufacturing, which in some cases required employees on leave, every dollar counted and education was often sacrificed for these pressing business needs.
If there are no conferences to attend, how can we bring the conferences to ourselves? Fortunately, many professional organizations have stepped up and created virtual conferences. These were organized by volunteers engaged in a variety of topics for âjust in timeâ learning, many of which focused on leadership development. Industry vendors have also offered their support by providing free online technical training and passes to virtual seminars, some of them with displays of equipment and instruments, allowing executives to continue. to keep abreast of technical advances. Other managers have tapped into their internal fire and created their own development opportunities. Podcasts, YouTube education, blogging, and reading material have increased dramatically. However, often self-learning is just not as engaging as active learning with others. So how can lab leaders stay actively engaged?
The link between personal and professional growth
Both professionally and personally, many managers have found deep satisfaction in volunteering. Actor Will Smith said, âIf you’re not improving someone else’s life, you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by improving other lives. There are countless opportunities to increase life satisfaction by volunteering in local civic organizations, professional organizations, or the community where you live. In an age of limited resources, all organizations would love to receive help, no matter how small. Those who are intrinsically motivated describe receiving a benefit from volunteering, sometimes 10 times greater than their contributions. This is an opportunity to expand your skills, expand your comfort zone in a safe place, and work outside of the all-too-familiar workplace, which can fuel internal fires.
Volunteering for professional organizations can lead to significant professional growth. This is most impactful for new managers who wish to find a mentor or who wish to acquire and practice leadership skills to apply them in their professional roles with more confidence and success. By simply attending (now virtual) meetings, you will be introduced to like-minded people who often face the same management challenges as you, or have experienced similar situations and can advise you. Often, serving in one organization will create opportunities in other organizations. It will increase your professional footprint and create even more opportunities. You will develop lasting relationships with some of the most talented professionals in the industry, both inside and outside your community. These experts become friends with a wealth of knowledge that you can tap into at any time for advice and networking. After all, it’s been said that it’s not always what you know, but who you know, that will help you take the next big step in your career.
Another way to stay intrinsically engaged in your career is to increase your formal education. Maybe it’s time to come back for that bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate that you intended to complete years ago. With the push to bring education online, there is now a huge choice of programs, and you are not limited to your local college or university. Many of these programs are aimed at adult learners and have reasonable payment plans. Reach out to other leaders in your profession to find out which graduate degrees have best served them in their professional development.
Maybe within your profession there are additional certifications you can get that will set you apart from your colleagues, which will increase your success. One such example is in the field of medical laboratory management, the Diplomate in Laboratory Management certification. Considered the most prestigious and demanding of all the certifications of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, there have only been approximately 1,100 diplomats in the United States since its inception in 1989. These types of certifications are available in all industries.
Additional certificates that will enhance your management role exist in the areas of human resources or professional coaching certificates. Many of these certifications can be individualized to fit a specific management area of ââinterest. For example, Laboratory manager will launch the Lab Manager Academy later this year, offering laboratory professionals the opportunity to become certified in laboratory management or take “Ã la carte” courses in topics such as positive communication, performance reviews, taking difficult decisions, among others. You never know what the future holds, but the more knowledge and diverse interests you have outside of your main job, the more likely you are to find new opportunities that can take you down the path to success. you never imagined before.
Paulo Coelho, author of several novels including The alchemist, said, âWhen we strive to be better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. This is why leadership development is so important. While you may have to step outside your organization to find it, there is so much scope for development. If you are wondering “what is the next step?” Â»Start talking to people you see as successful; understand what they are doing to keep their fire burning. Dip your toes into some volunteer activity. Surround yourself with positive people who also love to serve and grow. Take a class or two. Ask if you can spend 15 minutes with the leaders of your organization and find out what they have done to create joy and success in their lives. You never know – your next gas station and your best selves may be just a phone call away. It only takes a moment of need or courage to make the call.