Leadership Success: The Quick Start Guide – Part 3


Here is a simple truth - you can’t become a better leader without learning and you can’t learn without the experiences that go with leadership. In this sense, everything you experience - ‘good’ ‘bad’ ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’– can feed your development as a leader.

So what then constitutes an experience? Basically, it is whatever captures your attention while you are in the middle of it (or after it is over). Thus, your challenges, successes and frustrations all offer the potential to advance your development as a leader. You just need to make the time to reflect and learn from what is in front of you.

What do I need to understand?

Each leader must find his or her own way of succeeding through understanding:

  1. Themselves and what drives them;
  2. The context or world they lead in;
  3. The people they work with and work through;
  4. What constitutes successful action; and
  5. How 1-4 above relate to each other.

Thus, learning to lead is as much about learning how to learn as it is about what you learn; and it is an ongoing experience rather than something that you ‘download’ only at a training course.

The truth is that leaders develop over time through hundreds, even thousands, of experiences beginning in early childhood through young adulthood and into senior leadership roles.

So if you want to become a better leader it means becoming better at learning from experience, particularly those challenging or problematic experiences that cause you to rethink what you are doing as a leader.

Central to this process is the art of reflection. That is, the process of stepping back from an experience to carefully take stock and, through doing so, drive your development. The process of reflection challenges you to view problems, obstacles and successes in new ways; and it helps you to generate insight into yourself and your situation and then helps you to put those insights back into practice.

So how then do you make the most of reflection as a learning process? It can be as simple as creating a leadership learning journal. In fact, as little as one hour spent reflecting on a challenging situation, using some simple questions and guidelines, can significantly increase your learning from that situation.

So what kind of questions can I consider?

Think of a challenging leadership situation, that you have been or are currently faced with, and then consider the following questions:

  • What were you trying to achieve?
  • What worked in that situation and what did you do well?
  • What didn't seem to work as well as you would have liked?
  • Did anything push your ‘hot buttons’? Why? What does this tell you about what you think is the right way of doing things?
  • If the person you respect the most in the world was to give you some guidance about this situation, what would they say?
  • What possible options for new action have you identified now? What others can you think of?
  • Which option(s) might you focus on to improve your results next time around?
  • What is the first small step you can take today that will get things heading in the right direction?

Want To Read More?


Leadership Success: The Quick Start Guide – Part 2


The purpose of leadership is to advance the greater good of others, to contribute to something bigger than yourself. In other words, the success and well-being of your people, organisation or community. Put another way, the purpose of leadership is not to advance your personal status, career or glorify your own ego. Awards and recognition do come with good leadership, but they are the by–products of good leadership not the purpose.

A Leadership Map

Unfortunately, in spite of what many leadership gurus say, there is no magic formula for leadership. Each leader has to discover for themselves the best way of succeeding in their world. Adopting such an approach better equips you to understand the unique challenges of your world. And this is always more useful than trying to fit your situation to some guru's over-simplistic formula of how leadership should be.

The four main areas that are important to the evolution of your leadership are:

1. Learning To Lead

Learning To Lead is at the heart of becoming a better leader. In spite of the popular myth, nobody is born hardwired to be a great leader. The reality is that great leadership evolves from learning successfully from hundreds and thousands of, not always easy, experiences. The key is understanding how to accelerate this process.

2. Leading On Purpose

Leadership On Purpose refers to being clear about what you stand for as a leader and making sure your behaviour is congruent with that. This is important for two reasons. First, if you are not clear about what you stand for, this will create unnecessary self-doubt and stress. Second, if you are incongruent, your team will not believe in you nor trust that you 'have their backs'. You can not lead people anywhere if they don't respect you as a leader.

3. Leading For Impact

Leading For Impact refers to how well you manage your energy, talent, and mindset around the process of achievement. In short, it is a form of success management. That is, organising the talents and resources you have, for the best result, with the least amount of effort. The goal is to understand the few key things that you can do that will have a disproportionate impact on results for a relatively little effort.

4. Leading For Change

Leading For Change is the central work of leadership. As soon as you decide to move, in some way, from where you are now to where you want to be, you are in the change business. What many leaders tend to forget, however, is that all organisation and social change is still fundamentally a form of people to change. Even if the focus of your change is on systems and structures, these are still created and used and improved by people. Therefore, in order to be successful in leading change, you need to become outstanding at understanding how to help people to change. Redrawing the organisational chart, contrary to popular opinion, is not a form of change leadership.

Want To Read More?


Leadership Success: The Quick Start Guide – Part 1


Successful leadership is usually defined in terms of goal achievement. For instance:

Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how it can be done effectively, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish the shared objectives (Yukl, G., 2001).

While such definitions address the importance of achievement and working with others, they miss two critical aspects of leadership - who you are and why you lead.

Thus, successful leadership also requires being the best person you can be and being clear about who and how you want to serve.

In other words:

  • You are the catalyst for making good things happen in your world, and as such, you need to learn to be the best catalyst possible; and
  • The ultimate goal of leadership is to serve the greater good of others in some way, whether that be in your family, organisation or community.

The Purpose Of This Guide

The purpose of Leadership Success: The Quick Start Guide is to provide you with a series of questions to help you reflect on your leadership. Ultimately, it is the power of such reflection that allows you to:

  1. Strengthen your credibility;
  2. Have more impact, and
  3. Create lasting change.

To make the most of this guide, take some time to review a section each week and make it fun while you do so. Perhaps you could take yourself out for a coffee at your favourite cafe or perhaps you could talk these ideas over with another leader whose company you enjoy.

Want To Read More?