What's more important than getting better at your skills? (It's getting better at getting better.)

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What’s more important than getting better at your skill?

As you move up in leadership in a technology organization, yes, you will certainly need some technical skill. But you’ll quickly reach a point where improving your technical skill is no longer your best investment.

If it’s not true already, it will soon be true that the most important skill for you to improve is the skill of improving.

Why? Because as your circle of influence grows, you will more frequently need skills you don’t yet have. Often, that includes skills you couldn’t predict that you would need. And your ability to learn and adapt will be crucial.

How do you build the skill of building skills? Here are a few tips.

1️⃣ Do uncomfortable things on purpose. Do things you’re not good at, even though you’ll probably fail. I’ve seen some recommend that you regularly push yourself to 4% beyond what you think you’re capable of doing successfully, whatever that looks like for you.

2️⃣ Practice reflecting on failure. Whether you journal, meditate, or share your findings with others, take the time to explore what you can do differently and what you want to keep unchanged.

3️⃣ Invite and apply feedback. Insight can come from your senior leaders, your peers, or even your direct reports or junior technicians. Actively ask for feedback — both reinforcing feedback and corrective feedback. And practice applying it to your future actions.

4️⃣ Celebrate progress. You’re going to be doing things that don’t work. So when you do succeed, or when you learn something insightful from a failure, celebrate!

Early in my leadership career, someone told me that the discomfort of skill development brings resistance at first. But when you see the growth that comes from getting better at getting better, you’ll look forward to that discomfort and begin to crave it.

And that’s a good indicator of future success in leadership.

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