Here is the second in a series of blog posts that were derived from our Kravis Leadership Institute’s weekend panels of accomplished leaders. Our advisory board members were asked “What do you do to continuously develop as a leader?”
1. Be an Active Learner. Stay intellectually curious. One leader said, “I try to learn at least one new thing each day.” Another mentioned the importance of a “growth mindset”—being constantly open to new learning — referring to the research of psychologist Carol Dweck.
2. Be a Positive Role Model. One accomplished leader said that he asks himself the question, “how can I better model good and ethical leadership?” He said, “I try to get better every day by thinking about how I am perceived by my followers. Am I setting a good example for them? Am I doing the right thing?”
3. Be Flexible. “Don’t get stuck in a rut,” was the recommendation of one of our leader panelists. She said that it is important to try new things – including new problem-solving strategies. Moreover, several panelists mentioned the importance of always being alert to opportunities to develop, both at work and outside of work.
4. Use a Mentor/Coach. Many of our higher-level leaders hired executive coaches to help them develop their leadership capacity. Others, however, mentioned that any leader, at any level, can reach out to mentors. As one executive said, “Consult with people who know you. Ask for constructive feedback and advice.” You don’t have to use only one mentor, you may find it useful to have mentors for different aspects of leadership.
5. Take on Challenges. In order to grow and develop as a leader, it is important to take on challenges and “stretch assignments.” As one leader said, “take on a challenge or task that no one else wants to do, and learn and grow from the experience.” Another mentioned the well-known notion that we learn from our failures. “If you fail, try to learn from it. The next time, you likely will succeed.”
All too often, seasoned leaders believe that “they know it all” and that there is nothing left to learn. Nothing could be further from the truth. Developing as a leader is a lifelong pursuit.
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