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close this bookManagement Self-Development - A Guide for Managers, Organisations and Institutions (ILO, 1985, 282 p.)
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View the documentManagement Development Series
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 1. Self-development: What and why
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 2. Self-assessment and planning one's own future
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 3. Methods and resources for self-development
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 4. Some fundamental methods
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 5. Some ways of improving your thinking
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 6. Some other opportunities for self-development
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 7. Physical fitness, relaxation and other aspects of the self
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 8. How other people can help your self-development
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 9. Promoting management self-development within an organisation
Open this folder and view contentsChapter 10. What can institutions do to encourage self-development?
Open this folder and view contentsAppendices
View the documentOther ILO publications
View the documentBack cover


Why has this book been written? Or, from the point of view of the reader, what should you expect from reading it?

At any point in time, millions of managers all over the world are participating in some sort of training and development programme. To increase the impact of these programmes, both organisations employing managers and institutions where managers attend courses and seminars look for more effective training methodology. Great efforts are made to do more, and better, than merely to lecture on how to manage. The case method has brought life experience into the classroom. The computer has provided immediate feedback to decisions made in playing business games. Various organisation development methods have demonstrated that it is better to deal with whole teams than with isolated individuals, and that people learn best if involved in solving problems significant to their organisation.

Yet many of the current management development approaches and events fall short of expectations due to one common defect. They regard and treat managers as an object rather than a subject of the development process. Ignoring both experience and theories of adult learning, many organisations expose managers to a range of developmental activities, but fail to create conditions in which managers are keen to develop themselves. A training director's responsibility for developing managers is often substituted for every manager's responsibility for his own personal development. The results are disappointing in most cases. Managers may enjoy courses, but there is little transfer to work situations. A lot of talent and potential is never uncovered. The cost of training grows much more rapidly than the positive effects obtained.

But there are many other problems. Due to their growing cost, management courses are often accessible only to large and rich organisations. Managers living and working far from training institutions have very limited training opportunities. Some staff members may have to wait for many years before being offered a place in a course off-the-job, and so on.

This book has been written for three principal reasons. Firstly, to help increase managers' responsibility for their own development. Secondly, to directly assist those who are keen to develop themselves and therefore are looking for new techniques and resources for doing it. Thirdly, to provide some guidance to organisations and institutions keen to facilitate, encourage and assist managerial self-development.


Accordingly, the book is intended for the following types of reader.

Individual managers, and other persons interested in self-development, will find many guidelines, exercises and activities that they can actually use in their individual self-development. The exercises are designed so as to help you, the individual reader, to assess your own development needs, to negotiate your self-development with your organisation and then to develop various abilities, skills and attributes involved in being an effective manager. For example, some of the benefits drawn by experienced managers from various self-development exercises have included:

- learning new skills;
- improved job performance;
- making the best of themselves;
- career progression;
- self-satisfaction;
- greater recognition.

The book also includes a considerable number of practical guidelines for getting self-development established within an organisation. So, if you have a particular interest in, or responsibility for, improving management and developing managers in your organisation, you will find much that will help you in setting up a scheme that will be relevant not only to the needs of your managers, but that will also help to give your organisation the processes and relationships necessary for it to develop. These questions are very much in the province of what is called "organisational culture". It is well known that in some organisations people are keen to learn and develop themselves in any possible way. The climate and value system of other organisations inhibit any self-development effort and initiative. In which group is your organisation now and where do you want to be in the future?

Again, we can list a few examples of the effects of managerial self-development on organisations:

- increased efficiency;
- effective management succession plans;
- mobility of staff;
- ability to attract and retain high-calibre managers;
- ability to respond rapidly to changing circumstances and take new opportunities.

If you work in a management development institution (training centre, staff college, etc.) you will find a chapter on ways in which you can help your institution to take a role in initiating and promoting management self-development. On the surface, you may sense a conflict: is it not logical that if managers develop themselves through self-development programmes, this will reduce demand for training courses? Hence for your services? To avoid such a misunderstanding, our book explains how self-development can be integrated with various programmes run by management institutions, and used to enhance the effectiveness of management development at large.

Of course, the staff of management institutions should be familiar with the broad range of self-development methods described in this book, as well as with problems faced by organisations keen to support and help their staff in self-development. In addition, if you are a management teacher, trainer or consultant, you may be interested in trying out some new self-development method yourself!

As a result, an institution that decides to play an increased role in promoting self-development might expect to:

- enhance its national or international reputation;

- be consulted and involved in important national and international programmes of human resource development;

- attract and retain high calibre staff;

- attract high quality and motivated participants;

- attract and obtain good levels of financial support for its activities;

- become a "centre of excellence", highly respected for its innovative approaches to learning and training.

How to use the book

Two important points concern all readers who will open this book.

Firstly, you can read about self-development and find its various methods and alternatives more or less interesting and useful. But if you are really keen to develop yourself, or to get a deep insight into a particular method to be able to recommend it to others and help them to use it, you must experience self-development. Hence if you are serious about it, try to do the exercises described in the book!

Secondly, you may find out that not only the organisational environment in which you work, but also your national culture has some implications for self-development. For example, the prevailing value system may or may not encourage individual initiative, dynamism, experimenting with new methods, and entrepreneurship in general. Or, a particular self-development method may be regarded as strange and hardly acceptable in a given cultural context.

You have to decide what is likely to work and therefore is worth trying. After all, it is your self-development. However, you should approach the book with an open mind - and an active one. When examining the various ideas and methods, try to be objective. Ask:

- will this work here?
- what local factors will help it?
- what local factors will hinder it?
- am I sure?

If, after careful thought, you decide that there definitely is a clash between local factors and a particular item, then alternative ways open up (figure 1).

Figure 1. Some possible responses to new ideas that clash with local culture

You can, of course, simply reject the idea or method. This is in a sense quite reasonable - but it won't lead to any development.

A more creative response would be to think really carefully, explore the point at issue, and hence modify the initial idea or technique in a way that makes it acceptable and feasible within your local culture. Although difficult, this would be really developmental, both for you and for others who might learn about your modifications.

A third alternative would be to take a risk and try out the new idea, more or less unchanged, even though you believe it might encounter local difficulty. Provided you do this very consciously - it is essential to think about all the issues beforehand - then the risk may be worth it. Surprising things may happen and you may learn and develop a lot.

We must stress that we are not suggesting a wild experiment with grossly unsuitable methods. Not at all - hence the need for careful consideration beforehand. It will also be a great help if you try very hard to be aware of what is happening when you try things out. To that end, some of this book's methods that describe ways of observing, reflecting and analysing your experiences will be particularly helpful.

These last two approaches will, we hope, lead to very real developments. By gradually trying out new ideas, modifying them for local conditions, trying them again, and so on, you will undoubtedly reinforce your own development. You will also be engaging in a process that will help your colleagues, by developing a system of management self-development principles and practices that are suited for your country - and which eventually become part of your culture.

This last point is quite important. One's local culture is in a constant process of slow but definite evolution. This process can be aided by careful, conscious attempts to experiment with new ideas; rejecting some, modifying and changing some, incorporating some. A difficult but worthwhile task.


The book was prepared in the framework of an international project entitled "Co-operation among management development institutions", implemented by ILO with the support of the United Nations Development Programme. One of the main objectives of the project is making useful experience, and information in innovative approaches to developing managers, available to the wide public of management institutions.

The author of the book, Tom Boydell, has been one of the pioneers of self-development, not only in the United Kingdom, his home country, but also in the developing countries. Many people have helped him in preparing this book, in a number of ways. Of particular help, however, has been Malcolm Leary, who has acted as a private coach to the author for some sections of the book, and Tom Boydell's spouse Gloria, the source of many of the insights and ideas in the book.

ILO Management Development Branch,
Geneva, August 1984.