Leadership can be a challenging task. Arguably, of all the challenges that leaders face, the greatest challenge is within to examine themselves.
Best-selling author and leadership expert John Maxwell says it another way, “The toughest person to lead is yourself.” He is correct. It’s the challenges we give ourselves that can prove difficult.
However, every leader must learn how to examine and improve themselves. Here’s a look at five ways to become a growth-oriented leader from within.
Challenge yourself to:
1. Think deeply
Every leader should challenge their thinking and that of their team. In today’s economy, there is an urgent need for new thinking and innovative ideas. Albert Einstein reminded us that, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Particulary, CEOs need to read great books, attend leading seminars, and join powerful masterminds or CEO retreats. All of these decisions can prompt us to think more deeply about the solutions of tomorrow. For example, I lead several CEO retreat days each month because of the benefit they provide me as a leader and for the leaders who are a part of our group.
2. Learn quickly
Growth and learning are linked and act as notable keys to success as a leader. However, a fundamental truth that every leader must embrace is that speed learning gives us a competitive edge.
The leader that can learn quicker and faster then their competition increases the likelihood of winning outcomes. Growth-oriented CEOs explore new ways to learn faster. Leaders should always evaluate and ask their team to consider ways they can collectively learn quicker and execute on that information to drive the business forward.
3. Encourage generously
One of the most critical roles for any leader is to bring out the best in their employees. Many leaders often focus on: “concrete performance management activities, such as clarifying work expectations, getting people what they need to do their work, providing development, and promoting positive coworker relationships.”
While this is necessary, the secret to exceptional leadership is the generous encouragement of others. Encouragement means giving your team support, confidence, or hope. It is not easy to do, and it may not come naturally. However, when leaders celebrate, encourage, and recognize their team, their people perform at higher levels. Take a look around and consider who needs to be encouraged.
Encourage yourself and then inspire others.
4. Lead boldly
Bold leadership consists of committed decision making, decisive action, and risk-taking. Leaders who aspire to first lead from within should challenge themselves to be courageous – even when it is hard. Every leader should evaluate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) on the following question: How bold are you when it is time to make courageous leadership decisions?
5. Rest frequently
It’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends. However, smart leaders understand the value of rest and renewal. As a result, they set aside time each month to catch their breath. A renewed leader will benefit from clearer thoughts and make better decisions.
A rally call for leaders
There’s an ancient proverb that suggests, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” This text should be the rallying call for every leader.
Leadership is not about standing still, but rather the vision and commitment a leader has to improve themselves and their organization. Growing leaders position their attitude from the heart in a way that challenges them to scale and breakdown walls to find new and better ways for the future.
Growing leaders don’t settle for what they are; they strive to become what they could be.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.
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