Leadership happens everywhere and so we should not limit our opportunities to develop leadership to experiences and training programs at work. Taking a multi-domain approach involves considering connections across all areas, or domains, of our lives.
There are at least three major benefits to considering a multi-domain approach to leader development. First, we gain synergies by examining transferable skills across the connections we identify. We recently heard a great story of a leader who had been given feedback that she should work on being less emotionally reactive and defensive when her employees approach her with issues or setbacks. She noticed a connection in her “over-reaction” to her teenage sons and took the opportunity to practice being more composed both at work and at home. This practice both sped up her development and created improvements in her relationships at work and at home (i.e. it was both more efficient and effective).
In addition to transferable skills, taking a multi-domain approach helps us to grow from the ways in which areas of our lives are different. These disconnections present opportunities to expand our skills sets. Sometimes there are constraints in work that prevent us from trying out new behaviors or it simply takes too long to wait for the next stretch assignment. However, there may be opportunities to stretch ourselves outside of work. Taking on a community project or voluntary role presents unique leadership challenges. Whereas leaders in work can often motivate others through the use of rewards or punishments or simply the power of their position or title, motivating volunteers requires something very different.
Finally, considering how various aspects of our lives are connected can foster greater personal coherence and integration. This reflection often starts with noticing skills or actions, and then grows deeper focusing on values, identities, and self-awareness. Being aware of how we live out our values throughout our lives promotes greater psychological well-being. In so many ways, leader development is personal development.