Leading others can look easy. In reality, most leaders aren’t naturals at leading people; they have to learn by trial and error. Think of all the professions that people go into that require years of honing their craft: musician, doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, scientist….the list goes on. Although leadership has yet to acquire the title of “profession” (even if it should), it similarly requires continual awareness, learning, and fine tuning in the craft of leading others. In other words, it takes hard work to get better at it.
Yet many leaders don’t intentionally and mindfully work to get better at what they do. The best will set personal development goals and do the difficult work to become the best that they can be.
You will have a good chance of becoming a great leader if you are:
Intentional: Setting an intention for making a new behavior a habit is key to beginning the journey of great leadership. Behavioral goals that are specific (“I want to be an inspirational leader whose communication moves and motivates others”), practiced, and measured have the best chances of becoming habits. Practicing the new behavior is important because it creates new neural pathways in the brain that become “hard wired” over time. Measuring the impact of your behaviors will tell you if you are making progress; this can be done through self-observation and by asking for feedback from others around you. When the new habit becomes hard wired, it takes less energy for your brain to do it; it becomes instinctive.
Mindful: In order for you to identify and work on your behavioral goals, you will need to be mindful. This means that you are self-aware of your behaviors and able to stay on the path of practicing and measuring them, day in and day out. As your behavior changes for the better, you can simultaneously notice the impact your new habits have on those around you, as you are also aware when you revert to old habits. When that happens, you become able to self-correct in the moment to the behaviors you prefer. Breaking down your goals into small actionable behaviors that add up over time will help you to eventually make the biggest impact.
Whew. It’s not that easy is it? The only thing that’s easy is to make a commitment and not follow through. So find yourself a friend, colleague, mentor or coach that you trust to help you to stay accountable. You can do this! The world needs more great leaders!