One of the most amazing things in life is watching a baby advance through the various stages of growth. When they are born, they are totally reliant on their parents for everything. As time passes they begin to gradually claim independence. With each passing month, week or day, babies get stronger at feeding themselves, crawling, holding on, walking, talking, potty training and being stubborn! Babies happily explore, learn and grow.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a toddler’s never ending why questions? They ask and ask and ask until they either get tired asking or feel they got an answer that satisfied them. Have you ever watched an inquisitive child play with something dangerous and be oblivious to it? They are fearless! Children display no shyness about asking questions, making statements or seeking answers to problems they don’t understand. If this is innate to every child, why does it go away? When does the innocence of seeking answers, understanding or knowledge fall away? Why does the process of learning become complex?
As it takes babies years to transition from childhood to adulthood, it takes a leader a lifetime to develop. Every experience whether happy, joyous, sad, painful, exciting, traumatizing, life altering, etc., every single experience helps to shape the leader’s life. Leadership is a daily process that takes a lifetime commitment. Like a child loses the innocence of seeking answers, a leader can also lose the drive to continue to develop. Here are 3 suggestions to help avoid this:
Develop an inner circle of friends and associates who are as sharp as or sharper than you. Listen to and participate in discussions and activities that help you to grow. Use and learn from the experience of other leaders in this circle.
Join an organization that focuses on self-development.
Toastmasters is an excellent program for those who are interested in a continuous development regimen. In Toastmasters you learn in a mutually supportive and positive learning environment. You also have the opportunity to give back by mentoring younger toastmasters once you’ve become grounded in the concepts the program offers.
Become a mentor or coach in an area of your expertise.
Mentoring is an enriching experience for both people. Being a mentor allows you to help others learn, grow and achieve. As a mentor, your mentee also challenges you to grow by sharing from a different perspective and presenting various situations for resolution. Mentoring adds value to others and impacts your life profoundly.
Leadership requires a lifelong commitment. Servant leadership is no easy road however it is an enriching experience that touches the core of you. Leadership is about serving others. It’s about meeting people where they are and taking them where they would like to go. Leadership is about people and to lead people you must take the time to get to know who they are, what things are important to them, what they want and what drives them. John Maxwell reminds us that leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less and until you know and understand who a person is and what drives them you are unable to influence them. People force you to continue to grow.
Tip of the Week: As you focus on your leadership journey, I encourage you to search yourself to determine why you are on it. Is it from a place of ego or is it truly servanthood? Is it to advance you or to help others? Your stickability to the process is impacted by the answer you find. Being an effective and successful leader does not happen overnight. Don’t give up when you hit a few bumps as you pursue your goal of becoming an effective leader. Use your successes as encouragement to continue your journey and let your failures be learning moments that provide depth of experience. Serve well.