I reflected last week that productivity and focus don't just happen to you – they are crafted by you. The same is true if you want to become a better leader – you must be intentional because this won't happen by accident.
I want to become a better leader – and if you're reading this then you probably do too. I want to get better because as Bill Hybels has said, everyone wins when a leader gets better. I want to serve those I lead better. I want to steward the gifts God has given me and be a help not a hindrance to the mission.
Here are 10 ways to become a better leader – many of which I am pursuing with God's help this year.
- Invite feedback. The people around you will have good insights into how you could be better – ask them! Of course, it is up to you to create a culture where people feel comfortable giving feedback. Many years ago I had a boss who invited us to participate in a 360-degree review and then roasted the team for our poor responses! Needless to say, that was the end of our honest feedback.
- Take time to reflect. The more I look into the lives of those who lead or have led well, the more I see that taking time to regularly reflect (often with a journal) is common to most.
- Understand your personality and strengths. Both the DiSC profile and Strengths Finder are two quality tools that I have used and benefited from.
- Speak with other leaders. Find people who are in a similar role or stage to you, or are further along the line. Ask them – what are you doing to become a better leader? What would you recommend?
- Pursue a regime of “deliberate practice”. I discovered this term in Cal Newport’s helpful book ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. Deliberate practice isn’t taking time out to practice – it is the goal-driven pursuit of demanding activities that are designed, with feedback, to improve our performance. You can read more about it here.
- Hire a coach. I happened to spend some unplanned time with a leadership coach last week and it was one of the best 30-minute blocks I’ve spent in a long time! The value I got from this impromptu session has prompted me to try to find a coach.
- Attend events. I have received great inspiration from attending leadership events including Catalyst and the Global Leadership Summit. This year I am part of a team organising Oxygen – an event designed to refresh Christian leaders.
- Read (or listen to) books. There are many books on the subject of leadership, but one of the best I've read is ‘Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence For Every Believer‘ by J. Oswald Sanders. And if you’re feeling pressured for time you can always listen to books (e.g. Audible) or even access book summaries (e.g. Blinkist).
- Listen to podcasts. This morning I went for a run and listened to the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. There are an increasing array of podcasts for leaders who want to improve including the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast and the 1-3-20 Podcast.
- Ask God to reveal areas for growth. God knows everything and is ready to counsel the man or woman who will humble themselves and ask Him for help.