Stretch Your Professional Comfort Zone: ED Betof's "Big, Risky Leap of Faith" from Education to Management Development and Training Proved to Be Life Changing and Career Defining

Article excerpt


A pioneer in leadership development, Ed Betof also serves as an executive coach for the Center for Creative Leadership and was a founding senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's CLO Doctoral Program. He served on the ASTD Board of Directors from 2004 to 2007, and is the author of Leaders as Teachers (ASTD Press/Berrett-Koehler, 2009) and co-author of Just Promoted!


Q All of your degrees are from Temple University. What were your goals?

A I began my career as a secondary school teacher and educational leader. I did not even know that the profession of learning and leadership development existed when I finished my undergraduate course work in 1968.

My undergraduate and master's degrees focused on human health education and biological sciences. At the doctoral level, I was one of two individuals who pioneered the competency-based, interdisciplinary doctoral program at Temple University. My areas of concentration were team and organizational development, with a heavy dose of curriculum and program design.

I took what I thought was a big, risky leap of faith when I left the educational world after nine years and assumed my first management development and training corporate role. It turned out to be an enormously valuable and challenging transition, and one that changed my life. I never looked back.

Q What steps did you take to grow in your career?

A I regularly sought new and challenging assignments with the developmental goal of always stretching my professional comfort zone. It was important to me to personally model what I was teaching and coaching others to do.

In my mid-30s I was afforded two fabulous opportunities to lead functional areas far outside of my areas of expertise. These two assignments lasted almost eight years, and I reported to the president of a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical company. Those experiences have helped me in every subsequent role in my career.

Q Who has influenced you most in your career?

A My wife Nila has been my greatest influence, sounding board, and supporter. …