Benefits of Professional Development

Why is professional development important

Disciplined leaders believe in constant learning. Improving yourself means that you’re willing to do what your peers will not do. Namely, I advocate for reading as much quality literature as you can. Here, I’ll dive into the question, what are the benefits of professional development?

Also, we can attend conferences, seminars, set up lunch appointments with mentors, chat in the hallway, and converse with friends or family about our concerns. Unfortunately, mounting priorities provide little space for professional development.

I believe that the bulk of professional development comes in the quiet moments during reflection. That mostly happens within the pages of books, the words of mentors, and lectures by professionals.

Let’s get to the question: Why is professional development important?

You Learn Self-Reflection and Action

I listened to a book that changed my entire perspective on leadership. The book Extreme Ownership by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink presented the idea that leaders must have total accountability for all actions and non-actions within a team.

From then on, I knew that the Army wasn’t going to give me a handout. I had to become responsible for what I did or failed to do because it was my job. If my boss needed something and I was late, then I was required to rectify the situation.

I started doing things differently. I asked leaders, peers, and subordinates for advice on how to take responsibility. When I arrived at meetings, I made sure I prepared myself. If I had an issue in my platoon or staff section, I took care of it and accepted the consequences of my actions or inactions. There were several times I missed deadlines as a platoon leader, and I paid the price for it. However, I have no regrets about the accountability I took in the face of an unfortunate situation.

I often reflected on this idea. Had I not picked up this book, I would have never known this essential idea.

Another book called The Things They Carried by Tim O’Neil had a similar effect on my mind. As I read, I felt the sorrow, anxiety, and dread of the fictional Vietnam War platoon who faced uncertainty and death. Difficult topics like these challenged my current world-view, and it helped me learn to reflect on how Soldiers may react under stressful circumstances.

Benefits of Professional Development

Photo by Oladimeji

You Learn How to Teach Others

One of the best benefits of professional development is learning how to teach.

I had an inspired sergeant major talk to me about leadership following a unit conference. With a beer in one hand and a notebook in the other, he broke down leadership for me. He talked about trusting versus verifying, ownership, counseling, and basic soldiering. Discipline as a leader shows that you care about the unit.

He knew all of that because he read, studied, and applied leadership. I’m still in awe of his ability to lead an organization long after he had already left. His impact was insightful because I learned what true leadership was all about. He did that without boasting about his accomplishments.

I would have never known these things had it not been for that sergeant major who took an hour of his time to mentor me in a bar after a leadership conference. I am forever grateful for his advice.

Oftentimes, I’ll find myself in conversations referring to a book I recently read. It feels like I can reach into my mind and share something I didn’t previously know in those moments. It’s an exciting feeling to share what you learned in hopes that your audience will also find it meaningful.

Additionally, leaders must learn to teach. If you don’t learn, you can’t teach. Learning comes from professional development.

Self-Development Expands your Horizons

Are you thinking about being in your job until you retire? Now, it’s rare to see someone in their current positions long-term. Opportunities are abundant when you’re able to see them coming. That doesn’t happen until you make it happen.

Develop a work network even if you’re “at the bottom.” There’s no better way to start than at the beginning of your career or new to a company. Meeting people can assist you in getting to places where you want to be.

Leverage connections when opportunities arise. Volunteer to take on jobs you wouldn’t normally do but aren’t too tricky. These tasks add up, and you’ll be able to call those people down the road for help as well. Inevitably, we’ll all be looking for jobs. Plant seeds for the future by networking. Let them blossom when you need them.

Again, some benefits of professional development come when you put forth effort in your network.

Benefits of Professional Development

Photo by Cottonbro

Conclusion

If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s this: whatever you do, develop yourself. Whatever that looks for you, go and do it. That might mean volunteering for that business seminar, or setting up a lunch appointment, or talking with a boss after-hours.

It also might mean shelling out some cash for audio or hardcover books. The price you pay there is a lifetime of use, and that investment is far better than any coffee you can buy at your favorite coffee shop.

Why do you think professional development is significant? Or is it? What are some ways you develop yourselves? Write them in the comments section down below. Thanks for reading!

Books Mentioned

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Read a review here.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Neil

Photo Credit

Featured image: Ariel Castillo; his website here

Image 1: Photo by Oladimeji

Image 2: Photo by Cottonbro

10 thoughts on “Benefits of Professional Development”

  1. Laura TenPas says:

    Hi Robert!
    As a teacher by trade, this article totally hits home. It requires a lot of professional development as the variables are constantly changing. We are constantly trying to keep up with best practices. You gave some great advice! Thanks! Laura

    1. Robert says:

      Laura,
      Best practices change often. Thank you for teaching! I always value good teachers, and especially those who dedicate time to ensure the success of their students. Yes, professional development is critical to making sure you’re ahead of the curve of any practice. Thank you for your comment.
      Robert

  2. C.N. says:

    Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Robert! As a member of the legal field, I completely agree that professional development is crucial to your long-term success. We all bring different strengths, skillsets, and new ideas to the table, and when we’re willing to learn, step outside of the box, step outside of our comfort zones, and work together, the results are incredible. No one comes into a professional setting knowing everything, and when we realize that we need help, and that there are people in place to help us along the way, we must not allow that opportunity to pass us by (lack of interaction and intellectual progression=poor company morale). Great read! God bless you!

    1. Robert says:

      I appreciate your comment! Professional development is critical to all career fields. More importantly, we need to learn about other topics other than our chosen professions to create connections and creatively solve problems. Thanks for commenting!

      Robert

  3. Jeff says:

    Why is professional development important is an awesome article to motivate all of us to put more effort into our personal development to experience more success in our career. Do you have any personal development resources you could share with your readers, I am interested in learning where you spend your time

    Jeff

    1. Robert says:

      Jeff,
      I spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks especially in the car travelling to work or doing household chores. It clears my mind. Also, I’ll briefly read a book before going to bed. Usually, that’s when I get inspiration for improving my leadership style or posts. I have several book reviews that are in the works right now, so stay tuned! Thank you for your comment.
      Robert

  4. Ferra says:

    Robert,

    This is a well-written article that people who seek to better their career should read. I do think that professional development is an important topic that every businesses should pay attention to. I agree with you, some companies think that their employees are expendables. I just hope that businesses should not see their employees like that. Nurturing them by supporting them with great leadership, equip them with regular training, etc would be a better practice that will later bring back great impacts for the company itself.
    As for myself, I do seek to improve my skills and knowledge all the time. Challenging myself to learn new things that are outside my comfort zones is another thing. Even though I am a stay-home-mom now, but I try to fill in these gap years by taking online courses, volunteering, etc. I would like to make sure that my resume or CV will still look good when it is time for me to go back to work later.
    Once again thank you for sharing the story of that sergeant. I’ll bookmark your site for future reference. 🙂

    1. Robert says:

      Ferra,
      I appreciate your kind words! Employees are a company’s best asset, and it’s important to develop them in a meaningful way. I’m glad you appreciated my personal experience. It seems like you do a great job with self-development especially being so busy! Thank you for your comment!
      Robert

  5. Sharon says:

    Really inspirational post, thank you.

    Accountability is everything. It’s so easy to blame someone else for your own failures and omissions, but at the end of the day, you need to own your own mistakes.

    As for the professional development and learning, books are a great asset, throw away the TV!

    1. Robert says:

      Sharon,
      You’re absolutely right! I have loved listening and reading books as I have gotten older. To your point, you can’t blame others for your own failures. Thanks for your comment!
      Robert

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