Last week I had the opportunity of travelling to Belgrade, former capital city of Yugoslavia, and now Serbia, home country of the world #1 tennis star, Novak Djokovic.novak-djokovic

I was there to complete the final step of the train-the-trainer accreditation with two HR Learning & Development  Managers on our Career Development Programme that has become the foundation for current and future leaders and managers at this multinational drinks organisation.

I first met this very competent and enthusiastic group of six Eastern European and Balkan L&D managers back in October in Budapest for a three-day certification where they first completed the programme for themselves and then completed the first part of their accreditation process.

Last week was their first opportunity for two of that cohort to deliver the programme to their fellow employees, my role being the coach and safety net.  Fortunately the coaching won through and the safety net was not required!

Delivering such a programme in second language is a daunting task and both managers prepared themselves very well beforehand for what was to be a very stretching job assignment.  We held regular conference calls months and weeks before this final step, to run through who would do what.  As the time for delivery neared so the frequency of the calls increased, culminating in a final face-to-face run through the day before the workshop, to finalise their preparations.

By Thursday morning; however, the time for preparation was done and the time for delivery had arrived.  By Friday afternoon, 18 senior managers within the business had gained a new perspective on what career development looks like, had acquired a new language of development and were armed with a tool-set that can accelerate their development as the future leadership pipeline for the business in Serbia.

The feedback from the participants was excellent and there was an excitement fueled by a new vision of the future of their roles within the business and their careers.

As a coach I felt most proud of my trainers.  Their confidence in their abilities to take on a stretch assignment had grown considerably and this will no doubt translate itself into other such assignment successes in the future.

While organisations have flattened over the last two decades, bringing with it fewer layers and therefore fewer roles for vertical progression, so the extension of job assignments through increases in complexity, perspective, influence and impact has become the primary vehicle of career development and progression.

Of course that was just the 10%.  What is most important from here on is the deployment of this new knowledge and approach into their working lives.  This is also where the coaching continues as  line managers and the L&D group continue their responsibilities to support their employees in their employment and career journeys.

So it is in sport. On the day that saw a new leader emerge in the world of golf, with Yorkshireman DannyWillett stepping into the leadership void that was left when reigning champion Jordan Speith dropped 6 shots in three holes on the final day of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, reinforcing the principle that we need to be ready for the time and day that those in leadership positions relinquish their old and new leadership is required.

Danny Willett proved in the last 4 holes of his round that the time for his preparation was over and now it was time to perform.  So it is with us in our careers.

Will we be ready when that opportunity arrives?  Will we have taken on those stretch assignments that were offered to us that gave us the confidence to assume the leadership role when the opportunity as presented to us?  Nobody predicted that Speith would fold as he did.  All we can do is to prepare ourselves as best we can and hope that when the opportunities arise we will be ready and waiting.

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