by Robert Zaremba

Essential values for Personal Development

In this essay I will highlight the self-reflection process and it’s importance for personal development.

Personal Development covers activities that improve awareness, skills and develop potential. The concept involves formal and informal activities. Looking at people aims in life one should set goals in order to realize and maximize the potential. Personal development should start with finding out what are the personal skills and qualities.

Self-reflection, managerial-reflection

Self-reflection is an activity to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are. It’s a true recognition of yourself and your powers. Similarly we define the managerial-reflection - where you try to find your team values.

Self and managerial-reflection is a base for effective personal growth. It’s extremely important for every leader and manager. Manager, who is not able to grow the potential of the team will fail.

Each manager should start from self-reflection. After all, if you aren’t self-reflective, how can you truly know yourself? If you don’t know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do you excel?
  • What are your strengths
  • What are your weakness?

Validate reflections

Objective self-reflection is exceptionally hard. Even impossible. You need to validate your findings.

  • Look for mentors around you, who will be willing to regularly spend some time to validate your observations about yourself.
  • Complete personality tests.
  • Think about yourself, write down your manifesto, save it and hide. Create a reminder to look at it after one month. Compare what have you have been doing against what you wrote. Make introspection. Are you inline?
  • Perform a self-review.

Find your true values

There is no single person who is good in everything. The list of your strengthens and weakness comes from your background and personality. You should highlight and excel where you are strong at. Work on your weaknesses especially those which are painful.

Similarly, managers should take advantage of team diversity, and make sure that the skills and talents are properly used. Employees should have all they need to grow and be productive.

The principal values

Below I present the principal, natural values which are at the source of trusty, effective people. Then, coming after P / PC balance (explained below) I will list skills which derives from the principal values. The list comes from my own studies and outlook. I will only roughly describe each principle value. You can find more about them in many coaching resources.

Honesty
Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, if you are not an honest person, others will find it and will turn against you. Furthermore, if you are not honest with yourself then you can’t properly develop yourself. When you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Use your honesty to build a trust and become a leader people will choose to follow.
Proactivity

Taking control and making things happen rather than just adjusting to a situation or waiting for something to happen. Stephen R. Covey, in his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book, gives an extensive definition of what does it mean to be proactive. Below I highlight few principal - natural attributes of an honest and effective proactive person:

  • Work from the center of your influence and constantly work to expand it, rather then trying to change what is above your powers (Circle of Concern).

  • Be active in what you can create.

  • Be reasonable (from Old French resnable, from Late Latin rationabilis) - fair and sensible.

  • Be responsible (from obsolete French responsible, from Latin respons- ‘answered, offered in return’). A great interpretation for being responsible is having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action.

  • Ensure P / PC balance. Focus on the product (P) and the production capability (PC) - you don’t want to kill your production capability just because you need to release one feature tomorrow. Effective People maintain a balance between achieving desired results (Productivity) and enhancing the assets that allow them to produce the results (Production Capability). Examples:

    Production Production Capability
    designing a chemical process studying chemical engineering
    wiring a home apprenticing as an electrician
    doing a dance practicing dance
    enjoying a healthy body exercising
    having great kids preparing evening dinners, reading to kids
    live a good life take care about mental stability. Be responsible for yourself and your environment
Self-awareness
It’s the outcome of the true and honest Self-reflection. It’s one of the key components of Emotional Intelligence (EI). After Daniel Goleman (EI guru), self-awarness is all about knowing your emotions, your personal strengths and weaknesses, and having a strong sense of your own worth. Self-improvement is impossible without self-awareness. Essentially, the more you pay attention to your emotions and how you work, the better you’ll understand why you do the things you do. The more you know about your own habits, the easier it is to improve on those habits.
Inspiration
The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. The more you inspire, the more people will inspire you (Simon Sinek). A kind of fuel for work, but also a foundation. When you are inspired, you get an input and work with that. Understand that you can inspire, no matter what you feel you have or have not achieved.

Skills

Productivity skills

  1. Commitment - Get things done
  2. Creativity
    • look & feel
    • concept, functionality
  3. Open mindset
  4. Responsibility awareness
  5. Communication

Production Capability skills

  1. Organization
  2. Risk management
  3. Encouragement - keep the open mindset, but be positively realistic.
  4. Empathy. Avoid complaints. Be able to drive a constructive dialog.
  5. Synergies.

Hard Skills

Finally we are going down to the hard skills, which in some way can couple with the P and PC values.

SMART GET THINGS DONE
  • customer focus
  • product design
  • analysis & synthesis
  • strategy & vision
  • technical skills
  • communication
  • synergy
  • action oriented
  • prioritization
  • project management
  • leadership

Again, depending on your role, you excel in some of them, example:

  • Software Developer: Technical Skills, Analytisis & Synthesis, Action Oriented.
  • Marketing Specialist: Customer focus, Communication, Synergy.
  • Business Developer: Strategy & Vision, Communication, Prioritization.

Effective Product Manager should recognize and work on all skills.


Dilbert: 2008-05-23