Everyone always talks about leadership, what is it, are we born leaders or can we develop into leaders? As someone who feels like I haven’t been born as a natural leader, I was curious to read about what it takes to be a leader. Is there a certain formula you have to follow? Why are some people deemed leaders and others are not? And what does it take to get identified as a leader?
In the beginning of reading the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, he covers The Law of Process which focuses on how leadership is something that develops daily, not in a day.
He compares leadership to investing. It’s something that will compound over time, and not like investing successfully in the stock market and making a fortune in a day.
What matters most is what you do day by day versus over the long haul. “The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda.” He asks, “What can you see when you look at a person’s daily agenda? Priorities, passion, abilities, relationships, attitude, personal disciplines, vision, and influence. You can see who a person is becoming by looking at what they are doing every day, day after day.
What separates a leader from a follower? Leadership experts Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership: “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers.”
To be a successful leader you must first be a learner. The learning process is ongoing, requires self-discipline, and perseverance. You should have the goal each day to get a little better, building progress on each previous day.
Every person’s leadership growth process is different. Whether you possess natural ability to lead or not, there are five phases that can assist you in the process of developing leadership.
The Phases of Leadership Growth
Phase 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know.
As long as a person doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, there is no room to grow. Most people fail to recognize the value of leadership and essentially leadership is the ability to influence. In the course of each day, we usually try to influence at least four people. Don’t focus on that fact that “you don’t see yourself as a leader” but instead remain curious with all there is to learn.
Phase 2: I Know That I Need To Know
Ever found yourself in a group project or leadership role only to realize that no one is following you? Being put in charge is not the same as being a leader, we must learn how to lead. Former British prime minister once said, “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” We must understand that knowledge is required to go forward.
Phase 3: I Know What I Don’t Know
The moment you realize that leadership is what is going to make you successful in your professional career, you can work to develop the skills necessary to succeed. When having breakfast with a colleague, Maxwell was asked: “what is your plan for personal growth.” Fumbling for an answer, he later admitted that he didn’t have one. From that day on, he made it a practice to read books, listen to tapes, and attend conferences on leadership. Not only will daily practice help you grow in a professional career, but your personal life as well.
Phase 4: I Know and Grow, and it Starts to Show
Once you have recognized your lack of skill in the previous steps and begin the daily discipline of personal growth, alignments will begin to take place. When teaching a leadership workshop, Maxwell noticed a particularly eager student. When he got to the part of the workshop where he taught the Law of Process, he asked the student to stand up so he could talk to him.
Maxwell states: “I believe in about twenty years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership. Read books, listen to tapes regularly, and keep attending seminars. And whenever you come across a golden nugget of truth or a significant quote, file it away for the future.”
He finishes by emphasizing that in order to be a great leader it won’t happen in a day and you must start paying the price now. Start devoting your days to developing leadership to later experience the effects of the Law of Process.
Phase 5: I Simply Go Because of What I Know
When you reach phase five, your ability to lead almost becomes automatic. In this stage, your instincts will nearly be automatic with an incredible payoff.
What we must remember as students is that leadership is something that is developed daily, not in a day. Leadership is a process which encourages development, matures and changes people. This process requires time, patience, and effort. The Law of Process requires diligence and patience as it is our daily efforts which will develop us as leaders.
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Photo Source: Unsplash | Ethan Weil