Updated: Mar 8
When you're leading a company, it can be difficult to find the time to get to everything on your to-do list. Even more challenging is carving out time for your own personal development.
Because of the variety of work and family obligations busy executives face, self-improvement often falls to the bottom of their priorities. However, making time for you is an important part of a well-balanced life—and even if you don't have a lot of spare time, there are small, simple things you can do every day to work toward personal development.
To find out more, we asked a group of Forbes Coaches Council members to share some personal development activities and techniques that even the most time-crunched leaders can squeeze into their days. Here's what they recommend, and why:
1. Taking Online Courses
The best personal development technique I recommend most often to busy executives is online learning. This type of learning can be accessed anywhere at the convenience of the executive's schedule. The executive, in the comfort of their office or home, can access almost any course to develop and upgrade their skills. - Steven Mostyn, Elite Pro Resume Services
2. Investing In Emotional Intelligence Coaching
Much of an executive's competencies are directly related to emotional intelligence. In addition, employees often leave the company because they get along badly with their boss. Likewise, the lack of commitment is related to the mismanagement of team leaders. - Jose Fernandez Vergara, Stratos Executive Search and Leadership
3. Practicing 'Tuned-In' Speaking
Alter your speaking style to not speak off the top of your head, but to be really tuned in to the person you are speaking with. Before saying anything or responding, think about how your words may impact that person. It's a much different style of speaking that requires dedicated practice in order to gain proficiency. Words of a leader are way more powerful and impactful than you ever realize. - Andrea M Luoma, Accommodare Consulting
4. Listening To Podcasts
Podcasts are portable and short in duration. It is not like reading a book or watching a speech or presentation, where you are "trapped" for a period of time. Listening to other business people often triggers great ideas for your own business. Personally, I like the Freakanomics podcast. This podcast allows you to download the transcripts of the interviews, so if you did hear something you wanted to act on, you have easy access to that information and can store it in your own location. - Nanette Miner, The Training Doctor, LLC
5. Limiting Your Decision-Making
My best advice to executives is to get out of their own way by creating environments that limit decision-making. I am a huge fan of intentional habits and rituals because they put us on autopilot. I use the word intentional because we all have habits and rituals but not all serve us. I worked with a CEO who wanted to have a better pulse on his organization, wanted to exercise to burn off stress and spend more time with his wife, however, he hadn't created the environments that would make those things easy. A non-negotiable weekly staff meeting, a week's worth of exercise clothes in his car and putting specific activities for "dates with his wife" on his calendar made it much easier to get those things accomplished. - Cindy Barber, The Dash Group
6. Taking One Step Toward A Focus Project
Do one thing each day toward your focus project, however large or small. The consistency will keep the project moving forward and help it to gain momentum, and the ongoing attention will allow your subconscious to continuously generate new ideas. - Colleen Hauk, Balance Point Coaching
7. Being Present
I recommend developing one's sense of presence. Many leaders convey this sense naturally, and the ability may be fully or partially unseen to them. However, by intentionally increasing awareness of this superpower, it can be harnessed to new potential. It is particularly valuable because you can use it, modify it, adjust it, and turn it up or down based on the situation at hand. - James Glasnapp, James Glasnapp Coaching
My recommendation is to incorporate 10 to 20 minutes of meditation into their daily morning routine. I recommend using an app called Headspace. This approach is particularly valuable because it allows you to slow down your mind and calm the many thoughts that run through the minds of people in authority. It also helps you to focus and think more creatively because you will have developed the skill to declutter the mind. - Gabrielle Leonard, Gabrielle Leonard Studios
9. Reflecting On Your Strengths
My belief is each one of us can live and view life in our own unique way, which means there could be 7 billion ways to live life. That being said, how can we be appreciative of the uniqueness of the individual and tie it up with the larger goal of the organization? We need to move on from the herd mentality and robotic life. When each of us can start looking at our strengths, rather than weakness or flaws, we all can move from being good to great. - Jimmy Jain, Square Sequel Consulting Private Limited
10. Developing Trust With Your Team
The personal development technique I recommend most often to busy executives is to become better teammates. When adopting powerful principles, best practices and common language to be a better teammate, executives can take it back to their current or future teams. This personal development technique teaches the concept of vulnerability-based trust, helps executives understand the benefits of healthy conflict, shows how clarity and buy-in are key to achieving commitment, stresses the importance of peer-to-peer accountability and emphasizes that collective results are more important than individual goals. - Elizabeth Ruiz, EAR Enterprises
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