Our problems always look bigger when we are looking inward and they happen to become smaller when we are looking outward!
Change from a healthy organization is done through consistent small changes not one large change.
Excellence is not obtained through having more, but by being a steward by what you have already been given!
It is always a huge red flag for me when people complain about learning because of the work attached to it. This is a sign that we have seen that leaders lid and they will only take their department to the level they are currently at and no further. Without internal expansion of yourself there is no hope for external expansion in your organization. I truly believe growing leaders create growing organizations. If we have the discipline to be learners and apply what we learned to continually enhance our people and systems we will see over time substantial growth.
As far as growing I can only communicate the way I personally grow so lets look at ways that I grow as a leader.
1. I READ A LOT
I know this is the boring answer! It is like when someone asks you “how did you lose weight” and you respond “I ate right and exercised”. That is BORING but effective and the same is true when it comes to reading! Harry S. Truman once said, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Reading expands your knowledge, sets discipline in your life to actually sit down and read, creates a catalogue of information that you can return to in the future, and helps you enhance your time management skills. Reading is important for a leader and effective for all great leaders. Now when it comes to the type of books you read there are a plethora of options and what you choose may depend on the season of your life. I read a large variety of books everything from leadership, to faith building, to creativity, to biographies and that is to keep me from being singular focused as a leader.
A few of my favorite leadership books are “Leadership Pain” by Samuel Chand, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith, “Axiom” by Bill Hybels and of course “The E-Myth” by Michael E. Gerber and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
2. I LISTEN TO A LOT OF PODCASTS
Podcasts are what consume my time driving and my workouts at the gym. It is the perfect place to hear a variety of leaders as most podcasts are interview style and get exposed to new leaders or organizations you have never heard of before. Most podcasts are very practical in nature with the advice given and when you hear a great episode they are great to send to your team. A quick tip I listen to my podcasts on 1.5 or 2 speed to get through them faster. This may sound weird at first, but you get used to it and now sometimes when I am listening to a podcast it sounds slow and I think it is turned off when it is not.
A few of my favorite podcasts are “The Learning Leader Show with Ryan Hawk”, “Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller”, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast”, “The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast”, “The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes”, and “Creating Disney Magic with Lee Cockerell”. The list could go on and on, but these are a great start!
3. I ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS.
I have learned that being a leader that is a “know it all” actually makes you a leader that “knows nothing at all”. Great leaders are like sponges that learn from others and can ask the appropriate questions. I like to go into an new organization with fresh eyes discovering how they do things and why they do it that way. I am fascinated with the systems and structures of great organizations and the best way to learn is to ask.
So you need to find a leader that is farther a long in the process than you and ask if you can have 30 minutes with them to ask a few questions. Make sure you have your questions prepared in advance so that you respect their time and so that you get the most out of the conversation.
Also attend a few conferences a year and learn the art of networking and question asking during the break out sessions. I promise you the more you sharpen this skill the faster you will grow as a leader.
4. I LEAD OTHERS
Now knowledge is useless unless you apply it and many times we as leaders don’t realize how much we actually know until we actually use what we know. The greatest way to do this is develop leaders inside your organization. Take what you have learned and help elevate the people on your team, invest in their leadership growth, and allow them to ask you questions. This will grow you as a leader and grow your organization.
A simple easy way to develop a small group of people is to have your team read and discuss a leadership book together. Have them read one chapter a week and then spend several minutes discussing it at the weekly meeting. You can also attend conferences together or webinars together. As you grow together the ceiling to organization grows!
Be a leader that learns because growing organizations are led by growing leaders!
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Many times we’re not willing to change because we can’t stand the feeling of changing what we are used to despite how unhealthy it may be.
To find success as a leader we must desire the discipline of execution more than just the rush of the idea!
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As leaders we must make decisions that impact the entire organization not just the select few!
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Let’s be honest problems will arise in your organization and you have two choices to make. Will you become a problem-oriented leader or a solution-oriented leader. Most people fall into the the first category which is problem-oriented. They are good at identifying a problem or they know that their organization is struggling, but that is as far as it goes. They panic, they ignore, they complain, they blame, but they don’t not change. However, there are those who are solution-oriented that not only see the problems, but react in a manner that figures out the solution. They take responsibility for their organization, they understand that a decision has to be made, and they rally the team to help move the ball forward.
So lets look very quickly at 5 steps to become a solution-oriented leader when problems arise:
1. Stop & Breathe
Listen very quickly EVERY organization has problems that pop up. I know you may be sitting here and saying, “you don’t know what I have to deal with” and you are right I don’t. However, I can promise you that I have felt that overwhelming feeling before and I know many other leaders that have felt that way also. Problems come up and sometimes they are huge and sometimes they feel more like annoyances, but they are problems none the less and problems are just a part of running an organization. You are not alone and you are not a failure because you have to deal with the issues at hand. However, I do have some bad news for you… The problems only get bigger as your organization grows, but the sooner you develop this mentality the more resilient you become to those problems. Stop and breathe!
This sounds cliche to some, but the reality is God is practical just as much as He is spiritual. Check out James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” He gives wisdom and He gives peace, but you have to stop and ask. There is something that happens in the heart and mind of a leader that walks around knowing that God always has your best intentions at heart and that He guides those that listens. You have a peace and joy in the midst of the greatest storms that the world just cannot understand!
3. Hunger for Growth
You have to develop in your spirit that good enough is NEVER good enough. I celebrate wins, but I am always anticipating greater wins. I never have a heart that wants to settle and I’m always looking for opportunities to grow and learn. Build in your mindset the understanding that progress builds happiness and that stagnation kills purpose.
4. Get the Facts
Do not put your head in the sand and ignore the facts. Most leaders don’t like to look at the numbers or hear the truth because they feel that the facts reveal that they are failures. So they develop an out of sight and out of mind mentality. The reality is the only thing that will define you as a failure is not whether you have a problem, but what you do with those problems. You cannot solve a problem that you don’t have a clear picture of what the problem really is. Gather facts and face the reality of the situation and I promise you and your organization will be better for it in the future.
5. Take Steps
As leaders we have this tendency to think that we need a HUGE answer to solve our problems. If I got “x” amount of dollars in, hired this person, or landed that account all my problems would be fixed. That is a big fat lie because you didn’t actually change anything you just put a bandaid over the problem and sooner or later that bandaid will fall off and reveal the problem all over again. You have to take this thing one step at a time. If you remember anything remember this that small changes over time leads to a big change in your organization. Think of it like this that if you fixed or changed one thing a week you would be 52 steps closer to a solution than if you just sat around hoping for a miracle. Not only that but you are developing a culture that will prevent that certain problem from arising again in the future or preventing it from rising to the magnitude that you know it as today!
We all face problems, we all have to grow, and we all have to learn so remember that you are not in this thing alone. Stop, pray, desire change, get the facts, and start taking steps toward your solution! The future looks bright you just have to start walking towards it!
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As leaders we honor what we treasure!
Time can be our best used or worst used resource based on how we manage it!