In my work studying and coaching leaders over the last decade, I’ve been reminded over and over again that leaders don’t become great by mere happenstance. They grow themselves intentionally by doing the following three things.

1. Great Leaders anticipate change. President Abraham Lincoln famously said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Great leaders anticipate future change. As a result, they help create and lead the future.

2. Great leaders have the courage to abandon practices that made them successful in the past. Great leaders understand that life works in seasons and that what worked in the past and brought them to where they are today may not be enough to take them to the next level. Before Redbox and Netflix came around, there were video rental stores like Hollywood video and Blockbuster. Movie Gallery (which had taken over Hollywood Video five years earlier) closed its doors in 2010, and Blockbuster followed suit in 2013. Both went bankrupt. These leaders failed to innovate and abandon what worked in the past. Redbox and Netflix came on and provided the customers with better value. Right now as we speak, many brick and mortar stores are closing at a rapid speed as Amazon, Alibaba, and many other online companies win over the customers. Radioshack, Macy’s, JC Penny, Sears, just to name a few are stores that are closing hundreds of their locations around the country.

3. Great leaders diversify their network. They are connected to many different people. There are several ways this diverse network comes in handy. First, diversity is the mother of innovation. When people with different backgrounds come to the table to solve problems, innovations are more likely to happen. Second, having a diverse network means these leaders don’t limit themselves and their companies but are able to learn and think quickly to take steps that are required to make the kind of change that puts them and their companies on the cutting edge of change.

Are you anticipating change? Developing the courage needed to abandon old ways that won’t work in the future? Are you building a diverse network that will support the innovative change that is required to lead well?

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