Making Sure You Sweat

Leadership can be quite a journey. We have good days and bad days (and weeks, months, years). In the end, they all contribute to our learning. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all experiences that we can reflect on and learn from. Many of them “happen” quickly to us, providing us with a chance to react and do our best to change course.

Yet there are some things that we need to be intentional about improving. And one of them is us. You know, the self-development- that- forces- us- to- look- at- ourselves- and- do- things- that- will- force- us to- step- out- of- our- comfort- zone stuff.

Leaders must purposefully put themselves in a position where the discomfort of personal change (for professional and organizational good) makes them sweat. Sounds a little painful, but its one of those “it’ll be good for you” things.

We all have something we need to change about the way we behave. Some of us have lots of those. Consider the feedback you’ve received from your manager, your peers or your employees. What gives you pause?  Choose one or two big  things to work on that you are passionate about changing; don’t shy away from the tough stuff. Stretch yourself. If beads of sweat break out on your forehead, you are ready. Then: 

  1. Write it down: I’m a big fan of writing out an action plan. What steps will you take? How will you know that you’ve succeeded? When do you want to achieve these goals?
  2. Find a way to stay accountable: Oh, the intrusions of the ever-urgent, more important things to do. Following through is so hard. Many leaders find that a mentor or a coach can keep them on track. Many ask their staff and peers to hold them accountable. Whatever you decide, the “check in” with the people who are holding you accountable should be frequent. 
  3. Take action: Take a step every day. Yes, every day. The more you “practice”, the better and faster you’ll hit your stride and form new habits (that’s when you stop sweating).
  4. Get feedback: Ask those who observe you to provide specific feedback. How did you do? What can you do differently? 
  5. Reflect: Post-action reflection is essential! Journal, talk with your coach or mentor, but daily reflection on the strides you make and the adjustments you still need to make is important for progress. 
  6. Adjust: Make the necessary adjustments in your actions. Sometimes we “over correct” and need to pull back; sometimes we just need to step it up a notch. 
  7. Do # 3, 4, 5 and 6 again: Keep it up. Keep practicing, reflecting and adjusting. You’re on your way! 
  8. Celebrate your success: What will you do to celebrate? Who will you invite (hint: consider the same stakeholders whom are giving you feedback and are holding you accountable). Let me know where I can meet you – I love celebrations! 

Congratulations, you met your goals! What do you need to work on next? When will you get started?


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

4 comments on “Making Sure You Sweat

  1. MJ, I had a mentor that used to say he liked to see a little fear in a persons eye when he promoted them into a new job or assigned them a challenging task. It is similar to your “Make sure you sweat” comments. Personally I find my job more rewarding when there is an assignment that challenges me. I like your 7 step approach and working on only 1-2 big things at a time. I have used steps 1-3 and 6 in the past with success. You have added 3 other steps that are very important in helping leaders to chnage how they behave and learn from their past accomplishments. I am going to follow those steps.

Comments are closed.