Learning To Lead and Develop Yourself As A Leader
Leadership development is a continuous journey. I know of no great leader who is not always on the lookout for new leadership ideas, techniques, and methodologies.
Fortunately, like any skill, leadership can be learned. And your proficiency in leadership can be improved through continuous practice and utilization of the leadership methods and tools you choose to use.
A key to developing your own personal leadership skills is to monitor your experiences, thoughts, and actions throughout the day. Research reported in Harvard Business Review (August 2017) showed that “leaders who are in learning mode develop stronger leadership skills than their peers.”
A clear understanding of the current levels of one’s various leadership skills is also critically important. But this does not mean you should be overly critical of your current skill levels or of any mistakes you make. It is far better to interpret a setback as evidence that you have not yet developed expertise in a particular skill than to allow a setback to convince you that you are not cut out to be a leader.
Three tips for building your leadership skills:
- Focus on improvement over perfection. Don’t lose sight of improvement by trying to become perfect at a particular skill. And give yourself credit when you have made improvements, even while knowing you still have room to improve.
- Focus on process over results. One of my favorite advice to leaders applies to yourself as well: recognize effort, reward results. Keep your focus on the process of implementing a new skill and results will come.
- Focus on the positives over negatives. We all tend to focus on what we need to improve, while forgetting to leverage the strengths of the skills we already have in place. Don’t lose focus on what you are doing well and use these well-honed skills to build your other leadership skills.
By the way, these same three rules apply when you are helping team members or a colleague develop professionally.
Chances are you already know what leadership gaps you have, as well as what your leadership strengths are. The key to leveraging your strengths is through consistent behavior and actions. Purposeful action, based on your core leadership beliefs, prevents the handling of every situation you evaluate in an inconsistent, case-by-case manner.
Your leadership strengths can also be used to minimize or close any leadership skill gaps you have. Or at least buy you time to eliminate these gaps through coaching from others, your own reading and video research, or a formal classroom session.
My last advice is to approach your leadership development and learning journey with an open mind. Great leadership is an art, based on a core set of skills and behaviors you can learn.
Learning to lead others can feel enticing, alluring, exciting, and even satisfying. But learning to lead and develop yourself will feel powerful, empowered, aligned, confident, and authentically fulfilled.