One of the most unfortunate mindsets I have encountered in this country is the idea that graduation equals an end to the learning journey. It is a heartbreaking mindset and it is all the evidence I need to understand why there are so many unsuccessful people. Up until about 100 years ago, learning was the ultimate achievement. For thousands of years, people would make great sacrifices in pursuit of an education. Today, an education (or any kind personal development training) is often viewed as something we just have to get through or something that is taken granted. Some people avoid it altogether.
Thankfully, this is not the case for everyone. For a select few, personal growth and development is something that is sought after and valued. Are you one of these people?
One of the best quotes I could ever provide someone about learning or leadership comes from John F. Kennedy. He said:
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
If that’s true, it presents a problem for those not committed to learning… let alone learning leadership. Businesses are not helping much being that 61% of all organizations don’t even offer leadership training but still expect their managers to act like leaders and expect their leaders to just know how to be effective leaders. As you can see, it’s a compound problem and it actually sets up both the individual and the organization for failure. Since nobody really likes to fail, why are we doing this to ourselves?
Let me be blunt. Leadership in any capacity is a skill. Like any other skill, you need to learn more about it if you want to become great at it. Even if they have all the talent in the world, most football players don’t just become pro-athletes without someone coaching them, without dedicating themselves to learning plays, the emulation of great players and lots of practice. This model continues even after they become a pro. It’s the same everywhere else. Most tradesmen don’t become great without someone showing them some tricks, lots of study, and lots of practice – even after they become professionals. Leadership is much like any other skill. It takes a solid coach, plenty of learning and lots of practice – even after you get into that leadership position.
It’s true, there are some that are just naturally great at things. However, studies indicate that leadership tends to be only 30 percent genetic. What this means for most of us is that most of us are not “naturals“. The good news is that we can become great leaders with a little bit of effort and by doing what most great professionals do; getting a coach, learning more about it and getting plenty of practice.
This is true for current leaders, it’s true for those looking to get into a leadership position and it’s true for those simply wanting to take control and really lead their own lives. Unfortunately, there are way too many people that would prefer a television program or a funny Youtube video over honing their leadership skills or learning something new about leadership. Perhaps this is why there are not too many TRUE leaders.
I get it! Learning can be hard and practice takes effort. For that matter, having a coach tell you what you need to hear can often be humbling or frustrating when we have been doing something wrong. And unfortunately, sometimes learning can be tedious when we have to practice the material in the effort to get it right. With these things in mind, it’s no surprise that so many abandon the learning process early on, but as Hal Elrod once said: “Repetition can be boring or tedious, which is why so few people ever master anything.”
The simple truth is that having a coach, continuing to learn and practicing your skill-set can change everything for you. If you’re like most people though, you probably haven’t given much thought to the idea of developing your leadership skills. Maybe you didn’t know that such resources even exist or maybe, you’re not entirely sure how leadership development can help you. Let me provide some of that clarity.
- From a business perspective, leadership coaching works in many ways, and yes, it DOES work. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be so popular with massive corporations that are still growing in this modern world of retail closures. The simple fact is that leadership development increases profits and reduces costs, it aids in employee retention and creates positive dissent. This equates to a thriving company that generates better ideas, better products and better services.
- From a personal perspective, leadership development promotes self-confidence, personal empowerment, a desire to learn, persuasion skills, influence skills, a better understanding of self, emotional intelligence, clarity of values and convictions and so much more. This can equate to a more fulfilling life guided by better decision-making.
The benefits of leadership development are only compounded when your program is both strategic and individualized. When your program is NOT some cookie cutter program designed to provide a broad overview, it can enhance your individual strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. So seek out that one-on-one if you can.
Know that it doesn’t matter if you’re the leader of a large organization, a mid-level manager in search of the next step, someone just getting started in your career or someone just trying to get a better handle of things in their personal life. Leadership development programs offer you a consistent leadership culture that empowers you to make more strategic decisions, and that is something we can all use.
Of course, leadership training comes with a few other benefits as well. The New Yorker points out that learning a new skill has some unexpected side-effects, such as improving working memory, better verbal intelligence, and increased language skills. These side-effects are perfect for those learning about leadership.
Of course, we should probably address the apprehension of getting into a leadership development program because of how tough they can be at times. Well, you should know that as you learn a new skill, that skill actually gets easier to do. So not only does that practice get easier with each session, but the utilization of that skill becomes easier as well. Ultimately, this means that you have little to loose and everything to gain by making the decision to hone and sharpen those skills by enrolling in a leadership development program.
We all know that learning something new is always a benefit. I’m just encouraging you to make that “something” about leadership. Learning more about leadership is empowering. Getting started is the hard part because it takes making the decision to do it and making the time to get it done. Finding an understanding, competent and knowledgeable coach is often a big part of that battle but making the effort to find one could be one of the most rewarding things you may ever do.
Remember, leadership is a skill. Honing that skill is a choice. Ultimately, it’s better to challenge yourself before someone else does. That way, you’re not surprised by the challenge or disappointed by the outcome.