To be or not to be a leader? How can I become a leader? What can make me a better leader? How can I achieve more as a leader? How to make everyone trust me and follow me?
These are only part of the questions I have been asked while helping people to transform their lives and the lives of others for good.
In my 15+ years of professional experience in people development, I have met people with all the answers to the above questions and people who do not know the answer to even one of the questions.
In my experience, I have had to learn a lot. Not because I am a learning freak but because most of the roles I have taken during the years needed expertise and deep understanding in several areas, followed by the need to convince others that the change I think for them is good
The first thing you must realize, even before thinking of how you will grow professionally, is how you can develop as a person. Growing as a person may seem obvious, but many people fail here. It is the behavior you show to others. Remember that last person who was at an important meeting and behaved like a small child? I have many of them in my life, and you have them too. These are the people whose reactions are not adequate to the situations, whose emotions differ from the rooms, and whose understandings do not have any deep meaning or structure. These people may be with the highest IQ in the room, but at the same time, they do not behave like grown-ups. They lack the most critical part – emotional intelligence. To grow as a person for anyone means to increase their emotions and responses to the level where others see them as stable and able to support others.
Growing in the depth of understanding
People who have developed their emotional intelligence and have become good listeners do not seek to answer but to understand what others say. This is an essential element of the behavior because trying to understand generates opportunities and paths for solving issues and problems and opens the growth path. The deeper we try to understand others, the better our final decisions are. A person who wants to grow as a leader must work actively on learning to understand others on the deepest level they can instead of listening to answers. The second strategy is more like an open wordy aggression that comes from us to defend our ego from being hurt by others’ words. The more time a person invests in understanding others, the more meaningful solutions they bring.
Growing in a breadth of understanding
Often people misinterpret understanding in extremes. Many need to be aware that to solve a problem, there is no need to be an award-winning expert in a particular area, but to use the correct logic and guide the right people to solve the issue. While trying to be analytical, you need to divide what you can personally solve from what you need to delegate to others. The crucial element in solving problems is not having expertise but understanding the situation in the best feasible way. The better you know the problem and how everyone is involved in it, the better the decision for solving it will be. In other words, the broader the view you build around an issue or a challenge, the more influential the determination to solve it will be.
Growing in capacity
Our capacity grows with the areas of expertise we add to our portfolio of skills. Success in capacity means adding new knowledge and skills to help you handle a more comprehensive set of responsibilities and solve more complex challenges in less time. The more focused on building new skills through learning the leader is, the more they influence and impact results in different areas. With growing knowledge and skills, leader increases their capability to deliver higher results in various roles and positions. This makes them more valuable for the company and team.
Growing in influence and impact
The thing that looks easy to achieve but is more complex than the complete process of doing the job is how you influence others. Within this time, leadership has moved from allowing and disallowing to influencing others to support the changes and growth of the company. The more leader grows their knowledge and skills, the more they need to work on their appearance to others and how they influence change. The best way to do that is by using the knowledge and skills built into the growth process to pass through people and reach their deepest desires and values. Then, getting that place, the leader can turn what may have looked at as an autocratic and offensive way of working and managing into an inspirational behavior that drives the best out of people and attaches them to a broader growth strategy for the future, turning them from followers to creators of change.
Growing in numbers
The more the leader grows their network and influence, the better the results should be. A natural path for developing yourself and others includes expanding the results and the numbers that the team and the company achieve. With more engaged people supporting the more comprehensive strategy, growth in results must be a natural thing to happen. In one of his books, Peter Drucker said, “The manager/leader’s job is to grow company results by helping others find their passion and support its growth.” With that thought in mind, leaders must focus on growing numbers by getting the best out of everyone around them. In other words, the most sustainable way to boost results for the leader will be to increase their group of supporters and followers to allow the results to grow through the expertise that the group of supporters provides naturally.
Growing in strength
People receive feedback today on v their strengths and development areas. What many of them miss is that leaders welcome the same feedback. What makes the great feedback from the pathetic one is that it focuses more on strengths. Leaders often fail into the trap of focusing on putting effort into development areas. The best-known approach to developing personally and professionally is to focus on your strengths while creating them to strengthen your development areas. With an attitude like this, people achieve faster positive results without putting enormous effort into the development process. The apparent results from following that path are better gains and a more successful strategy. Developing strengths helps leaders focus on what is essential and what can help future success without interfering with the current environment. This approach also allows everyone to have a transparent model of communicating and interacting with the leader and how success can be defined, measured, and increased within that interaction.
Growing in vision
Martin L. King has a famous saying starting with the phrase, “I have a dream.” This phrase is often used by many leaders when they start something new. But what most of the leaders that use this phrase forget is that dreams must make you grow. Having a vision at a particular moment can help the leader start something new, but what was helpful cannot lead to the end. And there is a – change from the current to a brighter and larger vision for achievement and winning the future, based on changing environment and circumstances. Leaders who do not find a way to grow their vision with the growth of the organization and the change in the background often lose the game and turn their promising organization into mediocre players on the market.
The more leaders understand the need to grow their vision and change it, the more adaptable and successful the organization becomes.
Growing in character
No leader has grown without changing themselves. What behavior has made you come here will often not lead you to success tomorrow. Failure can be guaranteed with consistent behavior in time and consistent character that only answers to personal understandings, but not the environment. Initially, the leader may have been aggressive and pushy, but when the environment changes and people focus more on relationships and individualized touches in professional life, using that same old strategy can lead to disappointment. Today we live in a supportive, full of information, and flexible toward many rules’ world. With behavioral change, the leader guarantees the development of their strengths and those who work with them and achieve results for the organization’s greater good.
Leaders are different from others around them. Often, they are the spark that starts the change, the booster that makes success real. But they do not do that by themselves. The ground of their success is the people working with them. The more a leader grows themselves and changes toward the environmental circumstances, the greater the success of the organization and the more engaged the people who participate in that change are.