Shortening Your Leadership Learning Curve
What do you think of when you hear the term “leadership”?
Often “Leadership” invokes images of a CEO, a serial entrepreneur, an extremely successful business person, a winning coach, amazing public speaker or someone at the pinnacle of their career. Those images you’re thinking of are the end result of a lot of learning, taking risks with trial and error milestones. What can you do to develop your leadership skills today so that you can enjoy those rewards in the future?
Leadership is a process of taking action and “doing” – not just understanding (by listening or reading books). To get started today here is a 3 step process that anyone, at any level of professional success can implement. The good news is: Starting out by just asking for help is the cornerstone of this process; you don’t have to know everything or pretend to know everything. You just have to…
Ask about what you don’t know yet…
What do you want to get better at in your career? From sales to marketing to managing a team – what would you love to be great at? Now ask yourself: What don’t you know about that area of business? That’s an important question with an even more important answer: You need to know what areas you’re lacking in if you want to grow.
Now ask: Who embodies those things you want to learn? This might be someone you know, someone you’ve heard of or a public figure you admire. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; someone out there can help shorten your learning curve when it comes to leadership. When you find that person the it’s time to…
Learn new strategies and specific actions you can take…
Yes, we all learn from mistakes and they can be great teachers. You can also learn from other people’s mistakes (as well as their successes). This is where networking comes in. If you’re a member of a professional organization you’re already ahead of the curve – you have a built in network of people to turn to.
You can turn to them for advice or ask them to introduce you to someone that can – this could be over a cup of coffee or on a 20 minute phone call if they don’t live nearby. The important thing: Ask them for specific things you can start using – today – then take action on their advice. What did they do to get where they are? What would they have done differently? Create your own experiences and learn how to be a leader in your industry by doing.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
-John F. Kennedy
Now it’s time for you to…
Teach others what you’ve learned…
Think about taking tests in school (high school, college, graduate school or continuing education). Just memorizing answers and acing a test doesn’t qualify someone to teach the class. If you want to really learn – teach other people.
You can teach your coworkers or your employees. You can create internships and teach college students about your industry. You can speak at professional events. There are a lot of outlets to teach other people – and that’s what leadership is all about: Helping other people become leaders. Helping others helps you become a better leader.
Starting with “asking” comes full circle now – chances are great that someone else is asking the same questions that started you on your journey. Now you have the opportunity to answer those questions for other people.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
-Harvey S. Firestone