The Leadership Journey

In a previous blog we identified that it is good to ask ourselves whether we are good leaders, as only by asking ourselves this question can we recognise the need to continuously improve our leadership skills.

In this blog we look at the five areas all effective leaders focus on in order to continuously improve their leadership skills.

The saying “leadership is a journey not a destination” is more than a simple cliché. Research shows that good leaders see themselves as learners on a continuous journey of discovery. These leaders focus on five key areas in order to grow and improve. The five areas are:

Good leaders believe they can develop. Even if you suffer from “imposter syndrome” there is nothing to stop you improving. The starting point for good leadership is being self-aware. This means you need to be realistic and honest with yourself about your current strengths and your current weaknesses. You must also believe that it is possible for you to develop your leadership abilities.

Quite frankly, without this self-awareness and belief there is little that leadership training or coaching can do in order to develop you. When your mind is open to new ideas and to new experiences, it helps you to put in the necessary effort required to develop yourself. And by developing yourself you will also be better at developing those who report to you.

The next area is an aspiration to excel. Self-analysis and belief may get you started, but without aspiration you will get nowhere. Being content with the status quo means your journey is self-limited rather than ongoing and continuous. Good leaders aim for something greater than where they are today.

Now you have aspiration you need to challenge yourself and set personal goals and targets for your leadership journey. Like an Olympic athlete you will need regular training and practice if you are to excel.

Whether you set your own goals, follow a leadership development programme or work with a mentor or coach will largely be down to your own personal preference and circumstances. The important thing is that you do challenge yourself to develop your abilities, your outlook and your leadership skills.

Next you must engage the support of others. You do not have to do this alone. Whilst there is a useful place for introspection and reflection good leaders know they also need the input of others to help them fulfill their potential.

There is a saying that goes “No one is an island” and if you aspire to be the sort of leader who inspires and enables others to act then you must not rely just on insular self-development activities.

Finally you must commit to keep practicing. Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? This rule says that in order to become a true expert then you will need to deliberately practice for 10.000 hours. But perhaps the real differentiator between expert performers and simply good performers is the dedication to do something every day to improve themselves.

On your leadership journey it makes sense for you to have a daily habit of continuous improvement and discovery. But if you are in a position of responsibility and power then adopting this daily habit requires a real sense of personal commitment.

Leaders who follow these five areas set a positive example to their team which encourages them to also seek to continuously improve - and your team needs to grow and develop in order to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers!

Spearhead offer a range of leadership development courses that can help to improve your skills.