Leaders need personal growth for continued success
There are no absolutes in this world, but most leaders didn’t get where they are by never improving. CEOs didn’t start their careers at the top, and they learned things along their rise that got them to the C-suite. So it would be foolish to stop learning once they get there. As John F. Kennedy put it, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” In truth, we can’t avoid learning lessons throughout our lives, it’s just a matter of whether we want to learn them the easy way or the hard way. If you’re in a position of leadership, you likely got there by being proactive in your approach to learning. Why stop doing what brought you success once you’ve achieved it? For leaders continuing on their personal growth journeys, there are ample resources to help guide the way.
Yes, You Need Personal Growth
Leaders typically don’t lack skills or confidence, but they’re also human just like everybody else. They have flaws, they have moments of doubt, and they don’t know everything about everything. Because of their positions, though, leaders often feel pressure to be perfect, to act like they have all the answers. We live in an era of particularly rapid change, but change is also a constant in any age. You can never be an expert on every subject, but with continuous learning and personal growth, you can keep in touch with the latest trends in your industry and in touch with your employees. Embrace the change and try to master it so your can take on the next challenge.
“Own it,” Curtis Bateman, one of the co-authors of Change: How to Turn Uncertainty into Opportunity, told BOSS. “There are some things I know about the change, there are some things I don’t know, and perhaps we’re going to figure them out together and arrive at better answers than any one of us might get to on our own.”
In order to do that, leaders have to admit – first and foremost to themselves – that they can also be better. Rather than allow that to lead to a crisis of confidence, leaders should undertake regular self-reflection to evaluate how they can improve for the future.
“Ironically, sometimes the most successful people identify with imposter syndrome,” Rita Clifton, author of Love Your Imposter: Be Your Best Self, Flaws and All, told us. “A lot of them talk about it how it’s been a really important drive to them.”
Leaders should also embody the culture and values of the organization. Again, being human, they probably need to work at that and need periodic reminders. This is especially true for those coming into a company for the first time in a position of leadership. Long-time employees have an expectation of what the organization stands for that the incoming leader might need to get up to speed on. The job is to hire the right people, nurture their talents, and lead them in the right direction. That above all requires mutual respect and a dialogue between leaders and those they lead.
Here’s How to Get It
With all the responsibilities leaders have, where do they find the time for personal growth? Task management and goal-setting apps like Todoist can help you budget your time and remind yourself of activities that can slip your mind as other things come up. Books on leadership are great, but when you don’t have the time to read, audiobooks on platforms like Audible let you listen while you’re doing other important mind-body balance exercises like taking a walk out in nature to get out of the office. Podcasts like CEO School and No Bullsh!t Leadership give leaders personal growth tips in easily digestible chunks of time.
Not every source of personal growth has to be directly work-related, either. In fact, it’s better if some aren’t. They allow you to nurture and develop the person you are outside of work, which is just as important for leaders as it is for their employees. Outside pursuits also often offer new perspectives that change your approach to the job. Simply by broadening your horizons, you open up all new possibilities within yourself and in the business. Online learning platforms like MasterClass have content libraries full of lessons on all sorts of skills, including leadership development. Apps such as Babbel and Duolingo help you learn new languages, which may or may not prove useful for business, but certainly keeps your brain agile.
Eventually, for personal growth to continue, you’re going to have to look inward. Journaling, either by hand or in app, forces people to give an accounting of their day and in the retelling analyze the decisions they made and think about what they might have done differently. When you need to calm your mind, sweep aside negative thoughts, and just be, there are meditation and mindfulness apps like Headspace or good, old-fashioned yoga to help you center yourself. When that happens, you can continue the personal growth journey that brought you success. You can be your authentic self, the one who rose to a position of leadership.
“You can’t fake who you are and what you care about in the role you’re playing day-in, day-out through your working life,” Clifton said, “and if you do that, it can make you miserable or ill.
“There are things that you can do, things you can learn, ways in which you can develop and stretch yourself that actually use your strengths and make the very best of you.”
That’s the kind of personal growth that will make you a better leader and a better person.