***This article is inspired by chapter 10 of John C. Maxwell’s book
“Developing the Leader Within You 2.0” – “The Expansion of Leadership: Personal Growth.” ***
If you desire to be a leader who makes a long-term impact, personal growth is non-negotiable.
John Maxwell states, “The development, expansion, and the future of your leadership depend on your dedication to personal growth.”
He also shares that “growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will get better.”
If personal growth is so essential to successful, long-lasting leadership, why do so few leaders make it a point of emphasis in their daily schedule? I believe the answer to that question is one short little word spelled T-I-M-E.
Busy leaders never feel that they have enough time to invest in themselves. However, those who maximize their time and schedule personal growth into their days experience results that few others do. How you utilize your time is your choice. You can either “spend” it by being busy or you can “invest” it strategically in order to prepare for a better future.
If you desire to be an effective leader both now and in the future, consider these four key elements of personal growth to expand your leadership capacity:
1 – The Big Picture: Where do I need to focus my growth?
Vision is required to advance in any area of life, especially your leadership. If you don’t have a vision for what you need to grow in, you’ll likely struggle and have limited results. For instance, if you want to grow as a leader, but you begin reading books on how to fix your car, you’ll learn something and grow, but it won’t enhance your leadership. Define key skills or areas that you need to develop and focus on them. Do you need to become a better communicator? Do you need to manage your time better? Do you need to learn how to facilitate better reviews or meetings? Pick ONE THING to grow in and start there. Then, move on to other areas where you need to develop.
2 – Measurement: How can I measure and affect my growth?
Without developing a way to track your growth, you’ll acquire a lot of knowledge, but may not be sure of how you’re growing. For instance, set a goal to pick one topic each month and read a book on it. That means you’ll strategically read 12 books over the course of a year. By focusing your learning and practicing new lessons daily you will be able to improve much quicker than taking a shotgun approach of trying to read a wide variety of resources. Maybe you need to determine one conference to attend this year or a podcast to begin listening to. The key is being intentional so you can measure your progress toward achieving your goals.
3 – Consistency: How can I grow daily?
Consistency is one of the most underrated characteristics of great leaders. People need consistency from their leaders so they know what to expect each day. When it comes to personal growth, you need to develop a consistent plan of action. For me, my personal growth begins first thing each morning in the quiet before my family is up and moving for the day. This is when I read, study, and pray. Once everyone is busy getting ready to head out for the day, it’s difficult to focus. It may be different for you depending on your life stage. Evenings may be better. Lunch breaks can be a great time to read and reflect. Customize an approach that works for you, but commit to consistent, daily growth.
4 – Application – Can I act on it?
Knowledge without application won’t take you very far. Instead, you’ll simply become a frustrated subject matter expert. A critical step to becoming a better leader is to put your knowledge into action. Share with others what you are learning. Implement action steps that can help you and your team become better. Whatever you do, refuse to sit on the information you invest your time learning. Do something with it! As you read books and articles or listen to podcasts or attend conferences, be thinking about at least one thing you can apply immediately to your leadership. Also, be thinking about information that is relevant for others whom you influence so you can pass it along. Applied learning is the only way it will truly stick and have a long-term impact.
When I was beginning on my leadership journey, a mentor advised me to be a lifelong learner because leaders are readers. I believe in this perspective 100%. You can be a “leader” by position and not invest in your personal growth, but if you desire to be an effective transformational leader that makes a long-term impact in your organization, family, or the world, you must make personal growth a priority. Reflect on these four key elements of personal growth and put them into action. Once you do, you’ll expand your influence in ways that you never could have imagined.
Until next time…make today GREAT!
If you need help on your journey of going to the next level in your personal life or leadership, click HERE to learn more about my personal and executive coaching services.