I’ve had a front row seat to observe and work with many effective leaders over the last 30 years. Here is one thing that is certain: the best leaders are learners. But leadership development for the best leaders isn’t as simple as reading the right books and taking the right courses. The best leaders believe leadership development and self-development are synonymous. That is what I am doing today – helping you see the connection between leadership development and personal or self-development.
In the book Remarkable Leadership, I wrote that as we become a better leader, we become a better human being, and vice versa. When you understand this idea, you can no longer see efforts to develop our leadership skills as separate from developing ourselves in general. In other words, we can no longer separate professional development from personal development.
Think about some of the key skills that will make you a better leader. Highly effective leaders have great …
- People skills. As a leader you can’t escape people – they are part and parcel of your work. You can’t reach outcomes alone, only through people. The best leaders are able to understand, connect with, and build trust and relationships with other people.
- Communication skills. Can you be an effective leader without being able to communicate successfully? One of the most common complaints about poor leaders is their inability to communicate inter-personally and with groups.
- Influence skills. Leaders accomplish everything with and through other people. It isn’t done by control, but by helping people decide to take the needed action. Influence is required to lead at any level.
- Change skills. The organizations and environments in which we lead are always changing. You can’t be an effective leader if you can’t understand the need for change – and help others get through it, too.
- Learning skills. The best leaders are learners. I know I said this already, but it deserves more comment. Leadership is far too complex to reach a point where we know or understand everything. The best leaders aren’t searching for an arrival, they realize they are on a journey. Perhaps the biggest barrier to becoming an effective leader is the arrogance of feeling you know it all. Do you want to follow an arrogant leader or spend time with an arrogant person?
I could make a far longer list, which might include more specific skills and abilities, but it is hard to argue the relevance and importance of these five skills as a starting point for all leaders. If you continued to get better in these five areas, would your leadership effectiveness continue to grow? Look at the list again personally. If you continued building your skills in these areas, would you be a more successful, happy, and content person?
Given this frame of reference, there is no question that as you develop as a leader, you will gain insights and ideas, as well as specific skills, that will help you in any other endeavor in your life.
Recognizing that self-development and leadership development are the same gives us the chance to embrace such learning as a selfish opportunity and not just something we “should” or “need to” learn for work. When we see the personal benefit, we become more willing and more excited about opportunities to learn and grow.
And everyone – the organization, the team, and you – wins.
Yearn to become a better leader? Want to overcome the challenges, stress, and frustrations you face as a leader? Want to merge your personal and leadership development? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you might have what it takes to join me for the next Remarkable Retreat. The Remarkable Retreat is an intensive, powerful, small group experience designed and led by me. You can learn more and apply (yes, you have to apply) for a seat here. I promise two and a half days that will change your life for the better – and make you a more effective, confident, and yes, remarkable leader.