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Personal development for leaders: 7 actions you can take to grow as a leader

Updated: Dec 31, 2021

Growth in leadership isn’t an option. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that you invest in your personal and professional development as a leader. Just like any other skill, leadership requires a lot of hard work, focus and the willingness to give up the familiar.

You won’t become a great leader overnight. And you definitely won’t have all the answers right away. Continually learning and growing is how you’ll get it done. It’s how you’ll separate yourself from the rest and be able to forge a path that others want to follow. If you take the time to develop effective leadership skills, you’ll be able to attract the right people, foster a healthy work environment and grow your business.

Here are some habits you can incorporate in your life to improve as a leader:

1. Motivate yourself and those around you

How do you expect to draw people to your goals if you yourself aren’t motivated to go after them? You need to first learn how to stay motivated before coaching others on their self-motivation.

How you feel about yourself will always be evident in how motivated you are. That self-motivation is what will help you overcome the various obstacles in your journey. If you want to grow as a leader, you must first understand the “why” behind your drive. While skill and ability are very important, without motivation, there won’t be results. This especially applies to those you want to work with. You are the one to inspire that passion from them through your words and actions.

2. Take feedback seriously

"Lead by listening – to be a good leader you have to be a great listener." Richard Branson

If you want to be a successful leader, you have to appreciate feedback whether it’s good or bad. No one likes hearing that they did or said something wrong but best leaders realise that correction is an opportunity to learn and do better the next time (Proverbs 12:1).

We all need people who are willing to give us honest feedback. And if you feel you aren’t receiving enough of it, encourage your employees or those you collaborate with to give you some. Take the time to talk to them, conduct performance or peer reviews or even hold meetings where they can talk freely and voice their concerns. Even when the criticism isn’t valid or comes off wrong, listen before rejecting it.

3. Set high standards for yourself

The greatest leaders never settle for mediocrity. Good enough isn’t good enough for them. If you have chosen to pursue excellence, then you must understand that it takes some serious work and dedication.

As a growing leader, you’ll have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and beat the limits of normalcy. Hold yourself to standards nothing short of your potential. Raise the bar not only for yourself but for those around you. Remember, “whatever you do, do as if unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). So be the best version of yourself you can be.

4. Understand your weaknesses

The same applies to your strengths. When you become aware of what you can do well and what you can’t, you’re positioning yourself to grow as a leader. It’s much easier to accept one’s strengths as opposed to one’s weaknesses. But it’s important that you’re able to recognise and become acquainted with your weaknesses so that you can leverage them to become a better leader.

Once you accept your flaws and weaknesses, no one can use them against you. In fact, it’ll give you the chance to find ways to minimise them. It will even help you find people who better complement you when building your team. Everyone has weaknesses, but understanding and embracing them is the true mark of a leader.

5. Learn from your failures

Ask yourself - have you allowed your failures along the road to shape you as a leader or hold you back? Life is full of disappointment and failure is inevitable. We all fall at some point but getting back up is what will always count.

Being able to overcome failure, recover and learn from it is a big sign of growth. Every failure has its lessons, so have the courage to face them head-on and learn from them so that you can do better in the future. Here are some tips that can help you when you’re going through business heartbreak.

6. Listen to those that are more experienced

As they say, experience is the best teacher. Those who are experienced are a great source for learning - not because they’re necessarily always right, but mostly because they have a better understanding of being wrong.

Surround yourself with people who you know are smarter and better at what you do. Ask them all the questions you can think of and use leverage their experiences to your advantage. Attend networking events, read relevant books, listens to podcasts and just generally seek out any insights those that are more experienced are willing to give.

7. Work with a coach or mentor

From the previous point, we’ve learnt that one of the best ways to grow as a leader is to seek out external support. Coaches and mentors can help you become the best version of yourself by guiding you through major decisions, grounding you during tough times and helping you make sense of your purpose and goals.

They can also be another source of transparent feedback and help you draw lessons from your experiences that you may not have been able to before.


“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ―Ernest Hemingway

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