This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s leadership development resource, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost leadership and personal growth experts for more than 40 years, and this guidebook for leadership success contains invaluable insights. You can pick up a copy here.
Growth and leadership go hand-in-hand.
In a study of ninety top leaders from a variety of fields, leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership: “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”
Successful leaders are learners – and the learning process is ongoing, a result of self-discipline and perseverance. The goal each day must be to get a little better, to build on the previous day’s progress.
Leadership Builds From What You Don’t Know
Every leader starts their leadership development journey somewhere. Whether you’re leading a corporate team, a Bible study, a group project, or your own inner circle, your leadership progress will most likely follow these four phases:
PHASE 1 – I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DON’T KNOW.
Many people do not see the value of leadership. They believe that leadership is only for a few – for the people at the top of a corporate ladder. They don’t know that leadership is influence, and influence is invaluable regardless of your title. They have no idea of the opportunities they’re passing up when they don’t learn to lead. And when someone doesn’t know what they don’t know, they don’t grow.
PHASE 2 – I KNOW WHAT I DON’T KNOW.
Usually, at some point in life, we are placed in a leadership position only to look around and discover that no one is following us. That’s when we realize that we need to learn how to lead. And, of course, that’s when it’s possible for the process to start.
English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli wisely commented, “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” Once we understand that we do not have all the answers, our mind is open to discover them.
PHASE 3 – I GROW AND KNOW AND IT STARTS TO SHOW.
The first two phases of leadership development revolve around not knowing – the third involves doing something about it. Now that we know what we don’t know, we realize it is up to us to start growing.
Entrepreneur Marie Forleo reminds us of the power of focus over time: “Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently.” Consistency compounds and reveals itself over time.
PHASE 4 – I SIMPLY GO BECAUSE OF WHAT I KNOW.
As long as you are seeking growth, you can be pretty effective as a leader, but you have to think about every move you make. However, when you get to phase 4, your ability to lead becomes almost automatic – and that’s when the payoff is larger than life. But the only way to get there is to start today.
LEARN TODAY TO LEAD TOMORROW
Leadership is developed daily, not in a day. Coach John Wooden famously said, “When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare.” No matter the goal, that preparation can only happen on a disciplined, consistent basis.
Basketball legend Larry Bird became an outstanding free-throw shooter by practicing 500 shots each morning before he went to school. Demosthenes of ancient Greece became the greatest orator by reciting verses with pebbles in his mouth and speaking over the roar of the waves at the seashore – and he did it in spite of his speech impediment. The same dedication is required from anyone who wants to become a great leader.
The good news is that your leadership ability is not static. No matter where you’re starting from, growth is possible – and not just possible, but inevitable, if you begin your leadership development journey today.
If you REALLY want to seize the opportunities for growth…
Then you will want to join us for one day in August in Orlando for Day to Grow! This is your chance! Day to Grow will feature major speakers like John C. Maxwell, Ally Love, James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) Juliet Funt, and Ryan Leak. Want to know more? Click here for the full event information.