How Learning and Development Accelerates Career Success

 In career development, Leadership Development, Rick Conlow, Servant leadership

By accident and necessity I discovered, how learning and development accelerates career success. Unfortunately, over the last three years, I have heard and noticed that leaders and managers are increasingly anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, and frantic. Learning and development are not a priority.

The pandemic shook us all to the core with unprecedented problems. As it relented, new goals, talent challenges, retrenched game plans, fewer resources, high inflation, economic anxiety, executive unease, and layoffs created a plethora of negative emotions for everyone. These emotions crushed the hopes and dreams of billions of people. And led to the Great Resignation, the Quiet Quit, Act Your Wage, Bare Minimum Mondays, Career Cushioning, Resenteeism and more. All this backlashed against bad bosses, unsympathetic companies, and exploitive or toxic workplaces. Intertwined in this is a dichotomy, companies are adding learning and training programs, but employees and managers seem resistant and unengaged. Let me summarize my story with a theme that can be a path to accelerated career success that truly has positive influence and purpose for others.

How Learning and Development Accelerates Career SuccessMy Story: Career Success through Learning and Development

Backing up to the beginning, I became a Christian at 19, which led me to Grand Canyon College in Phoenix Arizona. It started as a bible college and became a baseball small college superpower. I went to play baseball. Along the way I got married to my bride Kelli and received a BA degree in education.

My first big job-program trainer-was with an educational company that sold youth programs (educational and jobs) to schools, states, and community organizations. The economy at this time was poor and jobs were scarce.

I did well primarily because I did not know any better, I was enthusiastic about my career and shared positive thinking and the challenges to grow with others.  Our location exceeded job goals and helped a record number of young people get a high school equivalency diploma. The corporate office noticed my results. Our Program Director left, and they promoted me. Immediately I had ten direct staff and two offices to manage. I dd not have any supervisory experience except for my caseload of students. I was frantic, now what? With my academic background I began a crash course on leadership-tapes, classes, and books.

How Learning and Development Accelerates Career SuccessMy on-going training helped. For example, two of my direct reports had a personality clash. They just could not work together. It disrupted our team. I coached each on handling it better. It did not work. After a couple of months, I pulled them both together. I learned in a training class how to do Constructive Confrontation. They left the meeting with the goal of solving the problem themselves or their jobs were on the line. It worked. They still did not like each other but they cooperated nicely when they had to. By the end of my first year, my two offices received #2 and #3 ratings in the company out of fifty-four locations in twenty-three states. Also, the corporate office had hired me to consult with the #1 office earlier in the year.

I also learned the corporate office had an Educational Director position open. I thought about applying but did not because they wanted a leader with a PHD. I only had a BA. The Vice President called me and asked me why I did not apply. I told him. He said, “If I want you, I will hire you. The degree will not matter. I want results.” So, he was flying from LA to DC, and offered to interview me at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport near my home.  I got the job and moved out east. Again, the learning and training paid dividends in results and promotions. Plus, they trained me to be a consultant, and a leader through fifteen different courses. Things went extremely well at the corporate level in their DC location. We transformed their learning process and programs across the country with elevated results. After a couple of years, one of my co-workers received a job at the Conklin Company. He got me hired there. I received a promotion shortly after there, too. Plus, in five years we attended at least twenty-five various leadership, training, and consulting workshops. My career success became related to my learning and development efforts.

How Learning and Development Accelerates Career SuccessAccelerated Career Success through Learning and Development

Look, I am not the smartest person in the room, and I am degrading my skills or not patting myself on the back. I did not have an MBA from an Ivy league school. I just kept learning, taking courses, reading leadership books, and watching video tapes. It helped me believe in the possibilities, stay positive and improve my performance. Furthermore, it made me think more strategically so I could innovate faster and better.

After a couple of years, another corporation with six companies reached out and hired me as a Manager of CX and Training. They were at the bottom in CX and EX in their market. Within two years I was a Vice President. Why? Because we became #1 in all products locally. Eventually, we gained notoriety in the top 5% of the nation and won over thirty sales and service awards for quality. Later, the corporation promoted me and added a General Manager role to my responsibilities for a consulting division.

Again, what helped me was learning: reading books and articles taking in-person or online programs, listening to tapes, and watching videos. I did this relentlessly. I must add, I noticed most managers did not take this approach to learning. By doing this I was able to coach and train others with confidence and insight that worked. As a result, the company management and executives bought into the learning programs, recognition tools, process improvement teams, EX and CX surveys, and the strategic planning, and plans to keep things on track. After ten years at that company, I started our management consulting firm with a colleague. Over the past twenty years our consulting firm has achieved these results working with over two hundred companies.

  • 48 quality service awards including JD Power, Ford’s President Award, and Canada’s Consumers Choice Award.
  • Record-breaking sales year after year: 30%, 48%, 52%, 75%, 122% gains in sales.
  • 15-20 points on customer experience surveys.
  • NPS scores of 60-94.5%.
  • 12-14 points on employee engagement surveys.
  • eNPS scores of 60-85%.
  • 4X reduction in employee turnover

How Learning and Development Can Help You!

I understood over time that my learning and personal development followed a path to career success if I stayed persistent and consistent. Five phases emerged for understanding and learning the latest content, ideas, or approaches. We committed ourselves to this in our firm and applied it to our clients and their teams.How Learning and Development Accelerates Career Success

  • Student-You begin to become a sponge to gain all information you can. It is often overwhelming.
  • Novice-You start understanding concepts, ideas, steps, approaches, and requires persistence, and it is often confusing and enlightening at the same time. But enthusiasm overcame mistakes. Progress starts.
  • Professional-as you start to apply what you learn to real situations you gain confidence, competence, and commitment with the wins and losses. Progress and positive results begin accelerating. You learn how to coach others for results and success.
  • Innovator-you begin to make the skills and knowledge your own as you integrate these coaching and leading with positive emotional intelligence. You achieve exceptional results through others in shorter time frames. You apply proven insights, data, and processes in complex situations.
  • Master-the years of continued learning, even as a Master, takes you to a new level. Insights flow in most areas that make complex issues and problems simplified and attainable for others through focused coaching and training.

Regardless of whether a company has an excellent learning and career development process, it is your responsibility. If you want the payoff, you must do the work. Do not wait for the company or manager to tell what course to take. Set up your own learning plan. Act on it. Apply the information to your situation. Adapt and learn some more. Continuous learning and development will accelerate your career success for you and your team.

Pulling It All Together

To be the best employee, leader, manager, coach, or consultant, you must go through all these phases. Or you fall short of your potential. Negative noise inhibits anyone’s effort. The media, social media, bad bosses, disconnected or unethical leaders, constant change, tumultuous local or world events add to the fire that derails our learning process. We must be on guard and diligent to flush out inevitable complaints, fear, worry, doubt, and concerns. The world works feverishly to depress us and hold us back. Because I persevered, it became a habit for me to seek, learn, and apply new techniques, I learned to apply a servant leadership approach because I wanted to help people win. This means people-first, service focus, collaboration, kindness, respect, and character. This helps create trust and brings out greatness in people.

How Learning and Development Accelerates Career SuccessI did not learn this at college. It was cumulative knowledge and skill from over one hundred different training programs, many books, tapes, videos, over three thousand personal presentations in 20 years with these companies, and of course, experience.

Things dd not always go well for me or should they, but the learning made up for it so we could fast forward to the next level. Furthermore, I consulted with over a half million great people—a handful were naysayers. And I had a couple of formidable Servant leaders coach me. My college, all the people, and these leaders taught me that you must temper knowledge and skills with honor, ethics, integrity, and character. This plus competence creates trust with people that becomes invaluable in helping them and their company change and succeed. All the learning and development efforts took time and money, but it always paid off in increasing my competence, commitment, results, and income. In others word, more career success. I am eternally grateful. In summary, hopefully this post gives you food for serious thought. Please, check out these quotes on the value of on-going learning, training, and education for accelerated career success.

  • “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” –  Brian Herbert
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
  • “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” – Abigail Adams
  • “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Also, click here for a complimentary resource called– How Does Servant Leadership Work?

How Learning and Development Accelerates Career SuccessFurthermore, the world desperately needs leaders that have empathy and care. Join the revolution in leadership thought and practice that elevates people first through Servant Leadership on LinkedIn: ServantLeadership@RickConlowInternational

Finally, see Rick’s newest book for added career success. The 5 Dynamics of Servant Leadership: How to accelerate your career and inspire your team!  See his newest self-directed leadership training: 21 Servant Leadership Training Lessons.

CEO/Founder, Rick Conlow International: RCI transforms managers from good to great coaches and trains them to become Servant Leaders. Clients achieve record-breaking performances in sales growth, customer experience improvement, employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. Furthermore, RCI’s online resources coach and train all managers or employees to higher levels of career success.

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