Why Some Leaders Grow (And Others Don’t)

How can I get better? 

It is a fundamental question that any great leader will ask. It is what separates the good and the great.

Development should be one of the primary obsessions or any great leader or communicator, and yet, we could all think of someone that refuses to change or grow.

Growth is evidence of a healthy leader and leadership. So why do some leaders grow and others stay stuck? Here are three reasons:

1. The Company They Keep 

They are intentional with their relationships when others are not

Leaders who grow are intentional about the people they spend their time with. Jim Rohn suggests that we are “the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. If you want to get better, spend time with people who are better than you. Or as the popular saying goes “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find a new room”.

Leaders grow in community. If you want to grow, whether in communication or leadership, surround yourself with a community that will enlarge both your network and your thinking.  

Leaders grow from wisdom and experience. Find someone further along the journey and invest in time together. Don’t underestimate the value of finding the right mentor or coach. 

Leaders grow through observation. Not all mentors require personal relationship. Some can help you grow through a screen, curriculum or book.

Some questions to reflect on: 

  • Who am I growing with? (Community) 
  • Who am I learning from? (Experience) 
  • Who am I gleaning from? (Observation) 

2. The Questions They Ask 

They are intentional with their conversations when others are not

Leaders who are committed to growth aren’t afraid to ask the challenging questions. They are intentional in the conversations they have, both with themselves and others.

Leaders grow from purposeful consideration. What type of leader do you want to be? What is your big picture purpose? What do you value most? 

Leaders grow from personal reflection. What type of leader are you now? How does this align with the type of leader you want to be? 

Leaders grow from helpful feedback. What type of leader do others say that you are? What are your blind spots? Who do you trust to tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear? 

Some questions to reflect on: 

  • What type of leader do I want to be? (Purpose)
  • What type of leader am I? (Reflection)
  • What type of leader do others say that I am? (Feedback)

3. The Time They Invest

They are intentional with their actions when others are not

Leaders that grow are committed to doing the work needed to get better and this is reflected in their priorities.

Leaders grow when they invest time in gaining knowledge. Take time to read books, articles or research to expand and enlarge your thinking. Listen to podcasts and watch videos of people who provoke your thoughts. 

Leaders grow when they invest time in practice. Practice makes progress. Practice is what separates an average musician, athlete or leader from an expert. Take time to hone, refine and develop your skills or craft. Say yes to speak or take on opportunities that allow you to get your hands dirty and have a go.

Leaders grow when they invest time in building capability. Find training opportunities or courses that will build and grow your capability and close the skills gap. Be willing to make the investment into your future. 

Some questions to reflect on: 

  • What am I reading right now? (Knowledge)
  • How much time am I spending on refining my skills (Practice)
  • What courses or training opportunities are there that could help me grow? (Training) 

What opportunities have you identified to help you grow? What will you do now? Whether it is speaking, leading, managing or supervising, how can you get better?