Which way should I go? Will that decision be the right one? How should I behave in this situation? What will my manager say?
How can I be a great leader? ~quote by leaders everywhere
The truth is, there is also no standard operating procedure to tell you what to do next. There is just you, and anyone you ask to help you (how’s that for a novel concept?). In leadership, you learn and develop as you lead. There is no magic leadership pill that will suddenly make you a wonderful leader; but there are some practices that are sure to help you get there.
You live in the gap between where you are now as a leader and where you want you or your organization to be. You will try, fail, and try again. You’ll also try, win, and build on your success. The important thing is not just to learn from your successes and failures, but to develop yourself as a leader and have some idea of where you are heading.
By taking action AND reflecting: Leading can be a great thing – not everyone is in a place to make the kind of impact a good leader makes, and you do this by taking action. To be a great leader, you must develop and change based on the people and context you lead in. How can you possibly know how you need to change without reflecting on the behaviors that impacted your successes and failures? Taking the time to reflect should be a required leadership competency; it’s that important to your ability to improve.
By keeping the end in mind AND staying focused on the present: It’s one thing to have goals and aspirations. It’s quite another not to let yourself get swept away by the stimulating and immediate things that pull at your attention. Avoid distractions that pull you away from your objectives. Remind yourself daily why you do what you do (or have someone else remind you), because that focus is precisely the thing that will pull you through the muck of the urgent and on to achieving the important things.
By having a safe place to dialog AND adjusting your behaviors: Someone who has agreed to be your “safe place” for dialog is essential – a coach, mentor, or friend who understands the world you live in is even better. However wonderful the dialog is, it’s even better to adjust your behavior and take action based on what you learn through that conversation. Ask that person to hold you accountable to your personal and professional changes.
Every leader leads differently than every other one. Based on your beliefs, values, personality, preferences and the organization you work in, you have lots of choices to make every day. Choosing to do all of the things listed above will help to move you along to becoming a great leader.