Whether born or made, great leaders are rare. Why is that? I’d argue that great leaders have an unparalleled ability to understand themselves—something most people spend their entire lives doing (and should)! Understanding yourself is the first step toward understanding others. Puzzling? Shouldn’t be. Here are two simple, real-time steps you can take toward revealing the leader in the mirror.
Create A Development Plan
Understanding your value set—as to say which values you prioritize and which you may disregard, lack, or simply be unaware of—allows us to learn why we act in the way that we do. Is it prioritizing “getting rest” or is it not valuing exercise, activity, etc.?
My goal is to be better able to match my personal goals with the leadership qualities desired in a sound leader. For instance, being aware that my inclination towards achievement should not interfere with the quality of the relationships of those around me.
How did I get there? I consistently create a development plan that includes more formal things such as educational courses and reading material but also the more informal, everyday work/social interactions.
You must then be on the lookout to monitor what you’ve learned and how you act in relation to what you’ve learned—these interactions can span as great as your outlook for the future of your organization or as commonplace as how to approach a colleague frustrated with a task. This brings us to the next point.
Monitor Your Compass
Plans are great. Plans can be rigid with dates and timelines or more free-flowing. They can take a lot of time to prepare and can be impressive—you sometimes even show them off to your friends. Plans may as well be toilet paper, however, if they don’t have a progress mindset—complete with reflection and analysis.
What’s this? It means that the plans that aren’t susceptible to revisions are the ones that become stale within a set time frame—it could be days, weeks, or even a year. Leadership doesn’t call for croutons.
Avoid this by taking the required steps to reflect. Reflect a lot. The key to development rests on the ability to move forward—to get better. Don’t be fooled, however, leadership is not a linear path and often involves stepping backward. Do it frequently! True leadership journeys are lifelong and plans/progress intervals act as some of the stepping stones along.