In my last blog, I talked about expanding your leadership skills by exploring different ideas and principles of leadership in books, articles, blogs, videos and seminars. You need to constantly challenge yourself by exposing yourself to new ideas and principles in order to improve your leadership skills. That’s the first secret of leadership, recognize that you don’t know everything there is to know. The more a wise person learns, the less they think they know. If you’re not willing to open your mind to new thoughts and ideas, there’s little or no hope for personal growth. In some cases, you may be exposing yourself to an idea that you already accept. That’s ok, we need repetition for ideas to sink in so we can make them our own. But, that’s only the first step.
We all have attended a seminar or read a book that exposed us to new ideas or concepts that intrigued us. With a little thought and analysis, we came to accept them, in principle. We came to an intellectual acceptance of the idea(s).
I have conducted numerous workshops where people accepted what I was saying. I could see heads nodding and participants said all the right things that indicated they understood and agreed with me. But, I knew that was only the second step. Intellectual agreement is different than emotional agreement. We all intellectually agree that we should eat healthy and exercise for better health. However, how many of us emotionally agree enough to put those principles into action? Many people attend a seminar and get really excited. This excitement may last for a day or two or maybe even a week. Then, as the reality of their daily lives creeps back into their awareness, they put the book or seminar notes on the shelf and get back to doing things the way they’ve always done them.
The final step of becoming a better leader is to test, practice and use the new ideas and principles you learn. It may even mean that you put into practice all those ideas you’ve professed that you believe in. In other words, it’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Ideas, concepts and philosophy are meaningless unless they become observable behavior change. Be careful though, we have a tendency to judge others based on their actions and ourselves based on our intentions. Intentions, all too often, become excuses or rationalizations. We rationalize why we didn’t exercise today or why we screamed, yelled at and abused that employee instead of applying those coaching skills we said we believed would be more effective.
There you have it. To become a more effective leader, it’s important that you have an open mind and willingness to expose yourself to new ideas and concepts. Next, you must have an intellectual agreement with a concept you believe in. Finally, that belief was be translated into concrete, observable behavior.
Next time, we’ll explore some leadership concepts you might want to consider. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts and comments. Contact me here or on Twitter @JoeDBuys