Leaders are learners. Growing leaders are growing learners.
There are many ways to grow as a leader. Below, I share five sure-fire ways.
1. Relentlessly pursue love
Passionately learn to love every day.
The only pure motive for effective leadership is love. Love for the self and love for the people one is trying to lead. Love is a verb, it’s a doing word. To grow as a leader, your love for the people must continue to grow daily. Yes, you can learn to love more.
In reality, leadership is all about loving others.
2. Be a hungry leader
The late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, is remembered encouraging people to “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Talking about hungry people, renowned motivational leader, Les Brown, said, “People who are hungry are uncommon people. The hungry have a vision of themselves when they leave here leaving a legacy and not liabilities. People that are hungry are willing to do the things today that others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow that others won’t have. People that are hungry are relentless. People that are hungry are unstoppable. People that are hungry refuse to give up.”
If you want to go in any area of life: Be hungry. Be a hungry leader.
Never become satisfied. Never get comfortable. Continue to intensely seek to grow and improve as a leader. If you produce a great product, you can always make it better. Be focused on always improving your leadership. That’s how hungry people are. They are never satisfied.
To get an idea how to be hungry and eat as a leader, read or watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
3. Eat Voraciously. Eat, Eat, and Eat again!
Eat without ceasing to feed your leadership soul. Eat the food of leaders.
What is the food of leaders? Knowledge and understanding on the subject of leadership. Fatten your leadership body by constantly eating to fulfill your avid appetite for knowledge and understanding on leadership.
Here are some effective ways to pursue knowledge and understanding on the subject of leadership.
- Read everything you can read on the subject of leadership. Engage in disciplined, scheduled reading. Don’t make the common mistake of reading recreationally or whenever you feel like it. To grow, a leader must remain hungry and must feed himself daily or regularly. Have a schedule for reading about leadership. Read one leadership book per month or one leadership book every three months etc. Pick a schedule that works for you. Also, read broadly. Leadership is life. Read about leadership but read also about other disciplines.
- Go where leadership is taught. Go to conferences, take classes, listen to videos and tapes, go to churches or synagogues where leadership is taught.
- Approach leaders who are ahead of you and ask them questions. Identify a leader you want to learn from and seek to buy them lunch and have the opportunity to ask them a few questions. Let them know you simply need 45mins to an hour of their time. You are not seeking a mentor or any commitment after that.
4. Do, Do, and Do Leadership!
The best way to learn leadership by practicing leadership. You cannot learn leadership from a book. Real learning starts when you start practicing or implementing the knowledge you have acquired from others. You start growing as a leader when you start serving and influencing other people for their good. Remember that leadership is not about a position. Leadership at its best requires no position of authority to be practiced. A position of leadership gives you a platform to reveal the leader you already are within. A position doesn’t make anyone a leader.
5. Surround yourself with the right people
The people you surround yourself with will determine what kind of leader you will become. Intentionally choose those you will surround yourself with. Have a strategy for identifying and building win-win relationships with people ahead of you who can help pull you up in the direction you want to go. Also have a few people at your level who are equally as passionate as you are about achieving their dreams. You will help motivate each other. You may even consider forming a mastermind group. Finally, identify a few gifted people below your level that you want to mentor and build legacy.