Challenging, real-life experiences are rich sources of growth and learning. 2015 was fast and furious for many of us. We are busier than ever, but if leadership is part of our intentional growth, than hopefully you have taken a bit of inventory of the past year and reflected on how you developed and honed your leadership skills.
While leadership is not something we develop in a year, it is a skill that can be developed and learned. Leaders are made, not born. It’s connecting to something you truly care about and willing to fight for. All of us have the capacity to lead in some way or another. It begins with the question, what do I really care about? And how can I make a difference in the world?
Margaret J. Wheatley, an American writer and management consultant, defines leadership this way-
“A leader is anyone willing to help, anyone who sees something that needs to change and takes the first steps to influence that situation.”
No matter the economic or social circumstances, people can step forward to make a small difference. They are driven to act and have the courage to lead with their heart.
Couple of years ago, I started a weekly leadership mastermind group to develop a consistent platform of learning from other executives in the business world. We wanted to learn and share together best practices about leadership in our industries and personal life.
I posed a question toward the end of the year on how are we growing as leaders? Here is their reflection on the past year:
Tal Shnall Customer Service consultant and Leadership Advisor
2015 was a year of transformation! A year of many opportunities to develop courage and step up my leadership game. A leader is someone who is willing to step forward and add value to people. Someone who is a giver! It’s much more courageous than someone who has authority or a position in an organization.
The past year gave me the opportunity to find my authentic voice and build a strength of character. My leadership was tested in different circumstances. I took those opportunities to put everything that I learned into my own life experiences. It needed leadership and courage with humility to be strong and see beyond an immediate situation. If I have to define in one word the past year, it would be learning. Learning to lead. Many of us want to “arrive’ to leadership. Great leaders never arrive. They continue to learn. You cannot give what you don’t have. If you want to add value to people, you must be relentless and hungry to grow as a leader. When you begin to add value to your personal growth, others will benefit. That’s my intention to bring to the new year.
Liz Stincelli CEO of Stincelli Advisors
While I still have a long way to go, looking back on 2015 I have made great strides in my growth as a leader. One of the key factors in my growth has been my Mastermind Group. They have challenged me to think about tough leadership topics and explore new ideas. Every time I think outside the box that has become my comfort zone and leadership default, I grow. Every time I grow, I have more to offer my mentees, my mentors, and my friends.
Cheri Essner Director Project Management & Facilitation
I grew as a leader in 2015 more due to challenges then through celebration. I learned to consciously create my own inspirations, leading through pain and sorrow, finding joy in small intentional moments. Our path in life is full of twists and turns not always of our choosing. Life is truly what you make it, resulting in my learning to lead with a positive, empowering impact by creating joyful memories all year round. As Jim Rohn said, “The major value in your life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become”.
Doug Dickerson Leadership writer and speaker
As I reflect back on 2015 it was a year of transitions personally and professionally. My oldest daughter moved to San Diego, California with her husband and my youngest daughter got married. Professionally it was a significant year with the release of a new book and opportunities to speak for various businesses helping them grow and develop leaders within their organizations. I am thankful for my faith that has sustained me, friends that have encouraged me, and every opportunity along the way to add value and encouragement to those sharing the journey.
Kelli Smithgall Social Media Marketing & Community Manager
2015 brought me a couple of very special opportunities to grow as a leader. My exceptional group of fellow Masterminders — Liz Stincelli, Cheri Essner, Doug Dickerson, and of course our very own facilitator and dear friend, Tal Shnall, have been instrumental in shaping and honing my leadership growth. This group has afforded me the most blessed opportunity in helping to build my confidence and improve my communication skills.
Being able to be myself, contribute, and learn from this very talented and edifying group through humor, intense discussions, and beautiful storytelling has been life-changing. The second opportunity that helped maximize my leadership growth was that 2015 was a professionally challenging year for me, full of more financial woes than one person should have to go through in one calendar year haha, and definitely brought me out of my comfort zone. But, with 2015 coming to a close and what these two catalytic opportunities provided me, I can most definitely say, without a shadow of a doubt, “It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Life…for me…and I’m…Feeling Good.” Bring it on 2016!