When it comes to a growth plan for your leadership ability, there are really three avenues most leaders take: accidental growth, too busy to grow, or purposeful growth. If you and I were to have a conversation and I asked if you had a personal growth plan, your answer would fit into one of those three buckets.
As you look at the natural world, you can readily observe how trees and grass and other plants are either growing or they are dying. The same can be said about our progress as leaders – it is either growing or it is dying.
I think you would agree that in the rapid-pace world we live in, there is not much room for leaders whose growth has stalled or died. If you are committed to increasing your influence and obtaining greater results for yourself and your organization, you really can’t accomplish that without a purposeful plan to grow as a leader.
Years ago, author James Allen famously wrote, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” Your circumstances won’t change for the better unless and until you make a commitment to grow and develop. The choice is yours.
Have you ever heard of the Law of Diminishing Intent? It says, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” If your reaction to having a purposeful growth plan fell into one of the first two buckets I mentioned above, you will likely say you don’t have the time.
And I understand this, I really do. My work days are long and my weekends are not long enough! Yet I know there is a huge amount of competition out there and if I don’t execute an intentional plan to be the best I can be, other professionals and opportunities will pass me by. No one can make the commitment to improve for me; it’s something I must do myself. No one can make the choice for you either. You either commit to grow and reap the rewards, or maintain the status quo and risk going backward to the “death” of your leadership.
What are some of principles of a purposeful growth plan for your leadership? I am glad you asked! Here are a few essential points to consider:
- You Can’t Do This Alone – Well, that’s not entirely true. You can only grow so far on your own, yet you will grow higher, deeper, and greater if you can grow alongside others who are equally motivated. If you try to go it alone, you miss out on having others encourage you and hold you accountable along the way. You may get distracted by the next projector interest and not have a sustainable, purposeful growth experience.
- You Must Know Yourself To Grow Yourself – Knowing yourself involves assessing where you are now, what you want to grow into, and the gap that represents. You must also establish the best way for you to learn and grow, for all growth techniques and plans obviously don’t work the same for all people. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Knowing your natural talents is key to leadership growth. Don’t fall for the “plans” that promise to turn your weaknesses into strengths – you won’t have the patience for that and it doesn’t work. What does work is purposefully maximizing your natural leadership talents resulting in greater influence, greater impact, and better results. In addition, you will get more out of growing in an area you enjoy rather than an area where you have limited talent.
- Motivation Gets You Going, Discipline Keeps You Growing – We can be excited about the end results we want to enjoy, yet lose some of that excitement during a period of stress or when other demands put pressure on us to deliver. Discipline is the secret sauce in realizing the compounding effect of your efforts. Discipline forms habits. Doing certain things each day or several times each week – such as listening to podcasts, reading good articles and books, attending focused workshops, using the services of a mentor or coach – help form leadership-growing habits. When done consistently, you begin to see the change you are looking for and begin to see greater results.
- Growth Always Increases Your Capacity for Greater Results –If you are still breathing and can make your own decisions, then you have the potential to keep increasing your capacity. While you may not be able to do any and everything you want to, I hope you’ll agree you can always continue to grow, expand, learn and get better. Yet, just learning more information isn’t enough. You must let the new information change how you think, and be committed to purposefully apply it. Once it is applied, you must evaluate the experience and continue to make refinements that are best for you.
I hope some of this excites you and gets your blood pumping – you can grow and thrive, yet you MUST be purposeful about it or you simply won’t come close to realizing the potential you have to be an impactful leader.
If you are interested in learning more, or just don’t know where to start, I invite you to reach out and let’s talk about it.