Eager young managers ask me all the time, ‘What leadership qualities are the most important for me to cultivate’? Or, ‘What do I need to learn about leadership styles’?
While those are good questions–and answering those questions will certainly help you lead your team to success–a great leader needs to answer an even bigger question first.
That question is this: ‘Do I have a hunger to keep learning’?
You see, the very definition of a leader is, ‘A person who leads others to a place they could not have gone alone’. People are always changing. No matter how many leadership qualities you acquire, or how many leadership styles quizzes you take, you will need to continue to learn in order to take your team to places they cannot go without you.
Are you learning?
Ask yourself, ‘What have I learned about my ability to lead others in the last seven days’?
What about the last month? Or the last three months?
In my experience, I have noticed that the most effective leaders I have coached
are eager, engaged, almost ravenous learners.
These people are not just learning in classes and seminars. They look at every problem, every challenge, every setback, as an opportunity to learn more.
They prioritise time for personal development, classes, coaching and reading.
As a result, these leaders become people that their team actually wants to follow! The team then starts engaging in personal development, classes, coaching and reading–and as a result, they become a more effective team.
This all leads to a more effective team, which leads to better customer service, which in turn leads to higher customer satisfaction –which of course, leads to more business in the future!
All because a leader decided to keep learning and growing.
Musician Bruce Springsteen commented ‘A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being that man you want to be’.
How do you become a leader who learns?
First, evaluate your priorities. What processes do you have in place right now to continue your own learning and development?
Next, evaluate yourself. How would you rate your own leadership growth over the past year? If you have stayed stagnant, you will not be a leader for long–someone will surpass you. Maybe even someone on your own team.
Finally, remember this: leaders are readers.
What are you reading? Facebook? Reddit? The new James Patterson book? James Patterson is great, but unless you are trying to be an author, that is not going to help you.
Start stocking up on great material that will expand your leadership qualities. Look for guides to growing your influence, vision, productivity and profitability. Then, do not let them sit in your Kindle–set aside time to read them and to discuss the principles with people in your inner circle.
Continuing to learn will reap huge benefits for you and your team. You will become a leader that your team wants to follow. Your team, in turn, will grow in their productivity and profit. Watching your team grow will keep you motivated and inspired.
And it all starts with a hunger to learn.