Being honest with yourself and allowing others to be honest with you is an important aspect of being a leader. If you are not honest about your own strengths and weaknesses, then how can you expect to develop the respect and trust of others? As Socrates wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
The hit television comedy, The Office, provides wonderful insight into what it is like for a manager who is unaware of his own leadership frailties or how his staff acts around him. Leadership is a journey in personal understanding, and in the comprehension of others. Leadership is not a destination—a title is a destination, and as I have often said a title does not make the leader.
While the ability to lead yourself and others is developed over a lifetime, many people never realize that their journeys have begun. Those who do begin their journeys into leadership often stop prematurely, because they think they know it all, so they stop learning and trying to improve themselves. However, like our customer experiences and our products, our leadership skills must also evolve to meet new demands and to honor new traditions.
As leaders, we tend to reach comfortable plateaus of experience, which must be placed behind us in an effort to continually learn and adapt to the new challenges of the world around us. To be a better leader and learn more you must want to elevate yourself out of your comfort zone continuously. Leadership is something that can be learned, which is why an investment in your team’s learning is always a sound choice.
While many people believe that leadership relies on some inherent qualities received at birth like Sleeping Beauty’s grace, the reality is that we can all be leaders, because leadership is just a series of skills and responses that each person is capable of learning. The real question is, do you want to learn? If you do, then you can be a leader.
As leaders we must have an open mind about other people’s ideas, their diverse opinions and their insights into leadership and our lives. Leaders are always willing to listen and receive feedback from others. Great listening is fueled by a curiosity about other people and what they have to say. The enemy of curiosity, and therefore listening, is grandiosity (the belief that you have all the answers). One of the biggest reasons for failure in leadership is that the person in charge believes he has all of the answers.
Be careful about rejecting ideas quickly. Your own understanding and insight into what is required to be successful in leadership should not inhibit you from taking advantage of another person’s leadership perspective.