An important component of true leadership is the ability to help develop those you lead. Not only do teams look to their leaders for professional guidance, direction, and support to help them do their jobs, the opportunity to learn and grow professionally is highly valued by employees — especially among millennials.

But first, every leader must learn to help themselves; to practice self-development before they can effectively help others.

Executive coaching is an excellent example of practicing self-development. Executive coaches help their clients clarify their goals, change behaviors, and strengthen leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and performance. Working with an executive coach also helps to create sustainable change — genuine improvements in your leadership skills that will endure over time. For more, read Arden Coaching’s article, “Change that Sticks: Executive Coaching and Sustainable Results.”

But why invest precious time and energy to improve yourself when there’s so much work to be done? Doesn’t that seem a bit self-absorbed?

Not at all. There’s significant organizational value in self-development for leaders. Continual growth for a leader is essential — the people they lead, and the evolving needs of their business, cannot be allowed to outpace them. And executive coaching helps leaders expand their thinking. So personal development is not selfish or self-centered, or about self-care. While you will certainly benefit personally, it’s actually about moving your organization forward and growing as a leader to create space — unless the leader is growing, the organization cannot grow behind them.

Think of the directions we receive (and mostly ignore) whenever we travel by air. If the cabin loses pressure during the flight, oxygen masks will drop down in front of all passengers. What do the flight attendants emphasize? That you need to “put your mask on first!” You will be severely hampered or completely unable to help anyone else, from a small child to a struggling senior, with their oxygen mask if you have not first secured yours.

The same is true for coaching and developing your team, or serving as a positive model for leadership at your organization. You have to take care of yourself and be in a position of strength before you can help others. From mindfulness and higher level listening skills to executive presence and emotional intelligence, executives who practice self-development are better positioned to become effective leaders, capable of strengthening their teams and their organization.

For more about these particular leadership skills, read

Virtually all professional growth happens outside of our personal comfort zones. Self-development helps us get there — growing our skills, making us more successful leaders, and growing our organizations.

To learn more about how self-development and executive coaching can help you become an effective leader, contact Arden Coaching at info@ardencoaching.com or 646.684.3777.