World-class professional development is key to the second part of the framework suggested in this blog (1. vision, 2. can I grow here?, 3. being whole – as summarized in the “Organizational Empathy and Innnovation” page).
I have worked in numerous organizations – for profit and not for profit, large and small – across a huge range of industries (e.g., chemical company, orchestra, railroad, university, social service agency, tech-based economic development). I’ve seen a wide variety of what is considered professional development. No one does it better than McKinsey & Company, based on a model Marvin Bower developed in the 1930’s. McKinsey has been one of the largest sources of Fortune 500 CEO’s for years. The reason is world-class professional development, from recruting to partner elections to retirement. It is disciplined, meritocratic, as objective and automatic as possible, and anchored in an enduring leadership model appropriate to the consulting industry and the Firm. This pattern can and should be adapted to every professional environment. My clients and I have done it many times.
What does world-class professional development have to do with the “currency of empathy” in an organization? A leader can only truly help people grow if he/she understands them – strengths, issues, how they can help the organization, how the organization can support their growth. If your boss understands you, she/he has your attention, loyalty, and trust. If your boss understands your coworkers too, real teams can emerge. The currency of empathy (and innovation) can flow.
I’ll share more about how to practice world-class professional development going forward. For now, I hope you can appreciate the similarities between the personal and professional versions of “I ‘Get’ You” (and what a Valentine’s Day meal has in common with Marvin Bower!). A currency of empathy runs through it all.