5 Reasons to Invest in Leadership DevelopmentJul 16, 2021
Why is it important for leaders to improve? When you think about leadership, what comes to mind? Often, we think about people at high levels - of our organization or government or community.
When I think about leadership, I am not thinking about a specific position, or certain titles or special credentials. Leadership is about the ability to connect with others and the ability to influence others. And, since we all have the opportunity to connect with and to influence someone or something, we all have the opportunity to lead.
As a person who values diversity and respects the need for different perspectives to get the best results, I believe the world is a better place whenever and wherever multiple points of view are represented. When it comes to leadership, this includes both feminine and masculine energy as well as differences of background experience, culture and style.
Often, we equate "equality" with "sameness." To me, people are delightfully different and unique, and this is what I like most about making connections with others. I love to hear how differently people see and react to people and situations. It's endlessly entertaining.
With that as context, let me share 5 reasons it’s important to develop leadership ability, credibility and effectiveness:
- The need for effective leadership is greater than ever. The pace, the uncertainty and ambiguity of work -- and life itself -- presents an ever-rising challenge and leaders have to continually upgrade their skills to face it. The past year plus of pandemic has put additional strain on many organizations and their people.
- The world of work is so much more complicated than it used to be. Competition comes from every direction, there is more opportunity, and more distraction. Being able to simplify all that complexity and provide clear direction is critical. Without clear direction, a lot of time, energy and focus gets wasted. The best leaders are very conscious of providing clear expectations and clear feedback on performance.
- Leadership development builds confidence and self-esteem. These allow us to participate in life at a higher level, to become more capable and more successful. People tend to look up to people who demonstrate courage and confidence, balanced with empathy and respect for others. Building these attributes takes intention, time and effort.
- In order to grow others [your team, your business, your family], you need to grow yourself. And self growth and personal development improves the ability to connect and your ability to influence. These are the essentials of leadership. Leaders are learners. They keep raising the bar on their own performance so that they can help others tap into their potential and focus on their success.
- Leaders are role models for the next generation. This is influence in action. What are the messages leaders in your organization sending? Are they thoughtful and deliberate about how they influence those who look up to them? One thing I've learned from my years as a business leader is that you never know what kind of impact you may be having on others. Being conscious of the example you are setting is a big responsibility of leadership.
Great leaders are important to any organization. And the reality is, no organization can grow beyond the competency level of its leadership. The best organizations are conscious of this and build leadership at every level of the organization. And this goes for your team and for your family and your community as well. Leadership is important in all those areas.
When you think about leadership broadly, with each and every one of us having the potential to be a leader, the responsibility for learning, growth and development is all of ours.
If your organization provides this kind of development, I encourage you to take full advantage of it. And even if your organization does not, I encourage you to make a personal commitment to your development as a leader.
There are many opportunities to invest in yourself. Google Leadership Development, search your library or Amazon for books on leadership. Search the podcast world or Ted Talks on Leadership topics. Or investigate online programs. Your local college or university may offer courses on leadership. Seek out a mentor or mentors, either within your organization or your industry. Join mastermind group and get help from others.
And if you or your organization need help with getting started - or kicking it up a notch - I invite you to reach out to me for a conversation about how to make that happen.
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