Each week, I respond to a question from a reader. In doing so, by default, I’m giving advice. I understand the risk inherent in this –I don’t know your situation. So, rather than offer direct advice, I’ve often deferred to sharing my personal experience or best practices I’ve learned from others. Today is different. The question I’ve been asked to answer is this: What advice do you have for me as a younger leader?
Okay, without knowing your context, I’ll offer some advice that I feel is universally applicable for leaders regardless of circumstances. I hope you’ll not be disappointed; you’ll see nothing new here from me. These are the themes I’ve been writing about the last 18 months.
Decide what you believe about leadership – What is your teachable point of view on leadership? It’s important for at least two reasons: What you believe will impact what you do. I suggest you be deliberate and thoughtful in formulating your opinion. Second, you will have the opportunity to teach others, either formally or certainly informally; you need to be prepared.
Maintain a servant's heart – I’ll be writing extensively about this in the weeks to come. The big idea behind my new book, The Heart of Leadership, is that if your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. If you really can’t get excited about serving those you lead, your leadership journey will always leave you feeling unsettled or unfulfilled.
Build the strongest team you can – There are several reasons I’m a huge fan of teams… First and foremost, teams get better results than individuals. Teams create the opportunity for rich, genuine community, and teams bring out the best in people. Also, I believe a team structure can multiply the capacity of a leader and the organization. If an emerging leader wants advice from me, I have to include, learn to build a team.
Learn to communicate – Leaders must do many things well to be successful; that goes without saying. However, my advice for any leader seeking competitive advantage and heightened levels of effectiveness has to include communication. I encourage you to think about this broadly – interpersonal communications including listening, public speaking, writing, and as I wrote about a few weeks ago, learn to make your ideas visible. Excellence in communications is the best way I know to turbo charge your leadership journey.
Never stop growing – Growth is the leader's fountain of youth. Our capacity to grow determines our capacity to lead. You and I must become predatory about learning. Someone challenged me on this recently and said, “That’s easy for you, you’re probably a natural learner.” Nothing could be further from the truth – you can ask my teachers in high school. They would paint a vastly different picture of me. What actually happened, I had to learn how to learn – it was fundamentally a choice.[GLS_Shield]
What advice do you have for other leaders?