What makes a good leader? The answer varies widely depending on who you ask! With literally thousands of books on the topic, blogs, podcasts, articles and personal experiences, leadership is always in the eye of the beholder.
One thing I know for sure, leaders are made, not born. Leadership takes work and development. One could never be satisfied with the status quo because leadership is never a destination. Thinking that you have “arrived” as a leader is almost the same thing as saying that you know it all! The more I think about it, it’s like being a farmer. You have to grow your leadership seeds every day!
The truth is that before you can effectively lead others, you must first lead yourself. The most difficult person you will ever lead would be yourself. Now, I don’t mean it in a negative way, but self-reflection and self-awareness are the keys to bring out the best in you. When you begin to improve as a leader, things around you being to change.
If you are interested in becoming a better team leader, you must develop your leadership skills and attributes to bring the best in others. If you want to grow your organization, you must grow leaders. Successful leaders don’t sit back and rest on the accomplishments of today. They are relentless and motivated to learn how to create a better tomorrow. They have a bold vision that drives them to raise the lid on their leadership.
Leadership and personal development go hand in hand. Every leader needs a personal growth plan to help them sharpen their saw to the next level of leadership. A personal growth plan is built upon the belief that personal development is our responsibility and as such we need to intentionally plan our growth on a daily basis.
The idea here is to have a plan that builds the areas in our lives that require personal development. I have personally use a personal growth plan in different areas of my life to continuously challenge myself out of my comfort zone. My personal belief is that if I don’t expand and grow as a leader, then why would the people around me become better and stronger?
So what does it take to grow as a leader? Let me share a few observations that can add value to your leadership growth. But remember leadership doesn’t happen in a day, it happens daily. Let’s take a dive.
Set aside an hour a day dedicated to your personal growth.
You will need to plan your growth. You need set some time each day to implement your growth plan. This is a sacred time for you to focus on developing the areas you have identified, used for reading, writing and reflecting. The reason I call it sacred time is because, you need the time to reflect as a leader. You need to learn about you. Your strengths and areas of opportunities to help you grow. Be patient with the process because your pace can be different from other leaders.
Find mentors and build relationships with successful leaders.
Charlie Tremendous Jones once remarked that “Five years from you now, you will be the combination of the people you meet and the books you read.”
This is one of the most under-valued areas of personal growth-building relationships with people. Relationships with mentors, coaches and successful people, will help you to grow more quickly than any other resource I know. Look for mentors to support and guide you in each of the key areas that you have identified. Every successful leader had a mentor, someone they felt they could trust and have credibility to help them grow.
Look for resources in all areas.
I like to listen to podcasts and try to listen to many interviews of leaders and successful entrepreneurs from all types of businesses. Sometimes, I will attend an online webinar or go to a live seminar to expand my horizons.
List the resources that you may need to assist you in developing in each of the areas you want to grow in. This may include books, blogs, CDS, seminars or training you wish to attend. In addition, include a list of resources that you are going to dig into to help you in your personal growth or an area you want to learn more about.
Last but not least, apply what you leaning.
When you develop the areas you identified for growth, find a way to apply what you learn. Learning is only retained and made meaningful by applying the lessons learned. New behaviors create new results, whereas new knowledge only increases your pride. So, have the courage to try new things. Some may not work, but as long as you are willing to try, you can make progress.
As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”