As a corporate soft-skills coach to executive leaders, Laura Baillie advises people to change what they can, expand their thinking, and leave what they can’t.
Over the last decade, Baillie has worked with more than 75 leaders, ranging from CEOs to surgeons, around the world and in different sectors. She’s learned that each success comes in a different way–some of it is easier than others. But on the flip side, she says there are some things that simply get in the way of growth, and it’s up to leaders to work them out.
Baillie says “suspicion and avoidance of the uncomfortable” is one of the most common obstacles she encounters. But if you allow it to paralyze you, you may never get anywhere. Here’s what Baillie recommends to overcome that reluctance.
“It isn’t about finding and dismissing a competitive advantage; it’s about a new way of building one.”
It was about eight years ago that Baillie says she finally realized how big a barrier it was for her people to want to learn new things. As one of the largest e-tailers in the United Kingdom, she discovered the intricacies of insurance policies, shopping practices, and marketing strategies of other businesses.
Despite intensive training, Baillie found it hard to develop trust and share new information. Now, she asks her employees to bring in new topics they’re interested in learning about, and then gets them a mentor for more intense learning. “There isn’t just one skill you have to master,” she says. “Instead, think in terms of what skills you need to gain confidence and expertise in your own experience.”
She believes that there are some things that can be done even though they’re not technically “education.” That means simply highlighting the lack of availability of this expertise, and asking employees to identify not just problems but also possibilities.
These are the skills you’ll need to gain the confidence, expertise, and connections you need to best use and make the most of your company’s resources.