Great Leaders Grow

Great Leaders Grow

Becoming a leader for life (2012)
By Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

To be a great leader, you must

1. Gain Knowledge

– Yourself
You need to gain self knowledge, more be self-awared. What are your strengths? What are your learning styles and preferences? What are your passions?

– Others

You need to gain knowledge about others you want to lead – as a group and as individuals. What are their hopes and dreams? What are their fears? What can you learn about their families? Their past work experience?

– Industry
You need to gain knowledge about the industry. What do you know about your industry? What has been true in the past? What is currently true about your industry that may not be true in the future? Who are your chief competitors, their strengths and weaknesses? How has your industry changed over the last 10 years?

– Leadership
What are the trends and best practices? What skills can you acquire? What skills can you sharpen? What books do you need to read? Who can serve as your mentors?

Many leaders fail to gain knowledge because they have too much to do – they’re going too fast and trying to accomplish too much.


2. Reach out to others

– Informally

– Formally

As a leader, your role is to teach both by sharing information as well as by asking probing questions.


3. Open Your World

-At work

1. Shadow someone from another department or team.
2. Work at a client’s facility for a day – or longer.
3. Listen in on customer calls.
4. Travel with senior leaders from the company.
5. Serve on a cross- functional team.
6. Begin collecting best practices from top performers.
7. Interview recent retirees and seek their counsel on current issues.
8. Attend the grand opening of a new plant.
9. Go back in the archives and watch presentations from the last decade.
10. Meet with leaders from other departments to understand their issues.
11. Have lunch with someone different every day until you run out of people, then start over and do it again.
12. Travel to visit your most successful locations.
13. Find a mentor (formal or informal) from another department.
14. Ask others who best embody the company’s core values and intenationally spend time with them.
15. Attend open enrollment training events that will broaden your perspective.
16. Lead anything you can – project team, ad hoc group, work group, fund-raising campaign, corporate fitness effort, department meeting, corporate blood drive, continuous improvement team, or Christmas party. Chances are good you’ll learn more by leading than anything else.

– Outside work

1. Travel
2. Volunteer work
3. Hobbies
4. Foreign languags
5. Time with interesting people
6. Read widely – beyond your industry and leadership
7. Home projects – outside your comfort zone
8. Mentors from fields unrelated to your own.
9. Exposure to the arts – museums, plays, concerts
10. Campaign for a local politican
11. Adventure experiences – sky diving, white-washing rafting, scuba diving, mountain climbing, hot-air balloon rides etc.

If you get too busy with your job to grow, your influence and your leadership will stagnate and ultimately evaporate.


4. Walk towards wisdom
– Self – evaluation

Its the ability to look into the mirror and tell yourself the real truth.

–  Honest Feedback

– Counsel

Feedback is about the past, counsel is about the future. Counsel is often derived from the experiences of the person you’re talking with. You get to benefit from their experiences and possibily even the wisdom.

– Time

Wisdom is accumulated over months, years and decades. You’ve got to stay with it. The pursuit of wisdom, like the other areas of growth, is never-ending. Don’t try to rush it- and never stop seeking it. If you’ll do the things we’ve discussed, over time, you will grow in wisdom.

Wisdom is the application of knowledge, discernment, insight, experience, and judgement to make good decisions when the answer may not be obvious. It can be an outcome of gaining knowledge, reaching out to others and opening your world. However, its not automatic.

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