Leadership could be summed up by saying personal growth.
OMG, think of all the things you’ve learned since you started supervising, managing or leading. I’m not talking about spreadsheets, reports, and contracts. You have learned soooo much about yourself, what makes people tick, unwritten rules of meetings and when to speak and when to hold your tongue.
The learning twist in leadership positions
When you advance into a leadership position, you suddenly must understand more than the mechanics of the job. You are no longer concerned with the intricacies of frontline work. You now have to discover how to get people to work together, how to motivate them and how to navigate the ongoing drama between co-workers. Now that everyone’s eyes are always on you, you need to figure out how to be calm and composed even when you feel like freaking out, falling apart or running away.
That learning for you is all personal growth.
A different kind of learning is required
As you work to develop your leadership skills and competencies, much of what you are doing requires you to look inside of you.
How to fit the learning in
The question is how the heck do you do that in the midst of your busy schedule? Most leaders don’t have the time or the luxury to go back to school in the middle of their career.
The truth is, the most effective, influential and successful leaders have added learning in by becoming voracious readers.
Yes, they read books. Lots of books.
On a regular basis, you will find leaders reading on an airplane, in their office, before they go to bed or first thing in the morning. They put reading into their schedule and make it a part of their life.
Leaders are learners
Leaders are readers
3 ways to add reading to your already busy schedule
More about Audible Memberships
You are probably wondering what Audible is. Audible is an Amazon company that provides the audio version of books. Audible is a monthly subscription service that allows you to listen to audiobooks at a highly discounted cost. You can download books right to your phone, tablet, or computer.
Each month you’re given one credit, which you can use to buy any item in their catalog regardless of their respective cost, rating, or length. The membership costs you $14.99 Canadian each month. You can end your subscription at any time, so really there is no risk! And, your first book is free!
Learn More About AUDIBLE Here
What should you read?
To help you out I wanted to give you a sneak peek into my library. If you want to know what I’ve been reading and rereading grab this guide and get my 20 favorite leadership books. In it, you will find the Audible links to each of the books starting with my very first suggestion Mastering Confidence. When you use this link to Audible, you will get it for free!
You can also purchase books on iTunes. Here’s the Mastering Confidence Link to the iTunes version.
Leaders are Readers
Remember, leaders are learners. Most leaders find the best way to learn is by reading books. Leaders are readers. Figure out how to add minimally 10 minutes of reading to your days and see your leadership success, impact and enjoyment skyrocket!
Get your first Audible book free here!
What do you remember about the last conference or training event you attended. The food? The conversation? The entertainment?
What about the content?
• What did you learn?
• How much of that material did you retain?
• How are you applying it now?
Good Course - Zero Retention
I’ve been to countless sessions over the years that were wonderful. They were chocked full of great information and ideas. I left thinking; “Wow! I can’t wait to put this into practice.”
I got back to the office the next day and dealt with the piles of emails that amassed while I was away. Then I moved onto the mini-emergencies that erupted over the few days I was absent. Finally, I attended to the day-to-day challenges of leading a team.
The stack of notes I took from the training sat on the side of my desk.
I didn’t retain a great deal of the information, and I certainly didn’t apply much of it either.
The same could be said for books I’ve read. Many books, have gone in one ear and out the other.
Good Course - Tons of Retention
Contrary to those training events or books, I've received immense value from other courses I’ve taken, seminars I’ve participated in and books I’ve read. The difference is, I learn and retain the most when I studied the material. Even more was remembered when I studied in a learning community.
We need to study the material
Studied. You know, read, review, and then practice. Fail. Go back and review the content again. Do it over. Talk about it with someone. Try once more. Get some feedback. Notice some improvement. Teach it to someone else. Study.
I studied Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen. I took notes from the book. I applied the suggestions. I re-read certain sections. I became a student of GTD. More than that, I talked about GTD with others GTD geeks. I created a learning community of my peers studying the GTD method. It was that shared connection that allowed me to strengthen my understanding and application of this profound time management philosophy.
It is even more effective to study in a learning community
A learning community according to Wikipedia is a group of people who share common academic goals and attitudes and who meet semi-regularly to collaborate on classwork. That makes sense of course of those in school. But, it also makes sense for you now. Maybe even more so!
Your personal learning plan should include others
I am a firm advocate for creating your learning plan for your career and especially your leadership journey. As you identify the type of leader you want to be and work to develop yourself, you will need to learn. I strongly suggest finding a community to aid in that learning.
A learning community doesn't need to be formal.
The bottom line, is that learning communities enhance your learning. Here are 3 benefits of joining a Learning Community
If you want to become a member of a formal learning community designed to grow your confidence in both your leadership and life, you may be interested in the Mastering Confidence Intensive. We are not just going to read Mastering Confidence, we are going to study it together. I hope to see you there!
Can they trust you?
The #1 thing people are looking for in their leader is authenticity and integrity. You need to be real, and you need to be honest. Your followers want to know that they can trust you.
Authentic leadership means that you are leading authentically with courage and leading with high integrity.
How do you measure up?
Over the last few weeks in the Excellence in Leadership series, we have been focusing improving yourself so that you can be an A+ Lady Leader. I’ve asked you to consider the skills you need to work on, to have the impact you desire. These skills hail from The Leadership Circle Profile. This is a 360 tool I use with my Lady Leaders who join the Women with Grit Program.
The Leadership Circle measures a set of well-researched competencies that gauge how leaders achieve results, bring out the best in others, lead with vision, enhance their own development, act with integrity, and encourage and improve organizational systems.
Authentically Leading begins with you
This week’s focus has turned to leading with authenticity and integrity. Authentic leadership is not masked by organizational politics. It is not when you are worried about looking good or focused on winning approval and being liked. Authentic leadership is the willingness to act with integrity and to courageously tell the truth, even when it is risky.
According to TLC, authentic leadership is made up of 2 core skills. The skills an authentic leader possesses are integrity and courageous authenticity. Let’s take some time to explore them in more detail.
Make your list
When you lead authentically, you need to know your values, ethics, and principles. You need to get clear on who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in. You must know what is important to you and what hill you will die on.
Live your list
The list of values, beliefs and principles are critical, but it is only a list. Without acting on that list, you are not courageously authentic or leading with integrity. You must lead and live that list. You need to take each of those standards and follow them every single day. When you do that, it’s said that you have morals. Your list of values and ethics become living actions. They become your day-to-day behavior, your ways, and your attitudes.
How do you measure up?
Leaders who live with high authentic leadership don't gossip, don't talk behind people's backs, and act the same way in a crisis as they do any other time. Consider the following points and see how you measure up.
Leading with courageous authenticity and integrity requires you to be yourself, at all times. That entails you removing the layers of protection you’ve built up, and uncovering who you are at your core. Then, you need to be vulnerable and be that person, regardless of what is going on and who is around.
Want to learn more?
You can learn more about leading with integrity by listening to this session.
Then, start your list to live by downloading the guide which will help to identify your
Increasing your confidence as a leader is critical to both performing strongly and to feeling good. Confidence comes from inside of you rather than from external sources.
You don’t become more confident as a result of what others say to you.
Instead, your confidence increases when you tell yourself you can and when you then believe you can. That means if you want a greater level of confidence, you need to grow it from inside.
To help you out with your thinking, I’m sharing some confidence hacks. The 1st Hack was Know You Can. If you can’t do it, no amount of thinking you can do something will give you the feeling of confidence. That means you may need to take some training, read a book or practice a skill to become more proficient, adept or able, thus more confident.
Confidence is what you think you are capable of doing
This week we are moving on to the 2nd confidence hack: Believe You Can. This hack is all about shifting your mindset.
I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…
Do you believe you can? If you don’t, I’m sorry to tell you, but you are in for some big challenges! If you don’t believe in your ability or skill, you will hit internal resistance. That inner voice will tell you to should step back. It will suggest you let someone else take the reins. That whisper in your mind will caution you, that you aren’t quite ready yet.
Believe You can
The confidence hack "Believe You Can" is about change your thinking. Your thoughts can either propel you forward, cause you to freeze or to make you pull back. If you want to increase your confidence, you’ll need to become aware of those thoughts and possible alter or tweak them. Sometimes it doesn’t take much of a shift in the words you are thinking. This powerful example from Alicia Keys reminds us of how quickly changing one word can impact us.
Shifting from “If I…” to “When I…” is an incredible tweak!
Here are 2 ways to tweak your thoughts to have the most power over your confidence levels.
Use Your Inner Guidance Cycle
Using the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle (pause, ponder, pivot & proceed) will help you to become aware of your thoughts. The cycle gives you access to your Inner Guidance System, which is that inner wisdom. That internal insight allows you to notice the thought and then determine if what you are thinking is going to be helpful in getting you where you want to be. That awareness can help you to fine-tune the thought.
When you think, “I’m not ready yet.” You tend to stay quiet at a meeting. Noticing the precise words you are thinking, lets you step back and perhaps alter the what is going on in your mind. If you’ve been practicing public speaking (Remember Hack #1 was about increasing your competence so that you Know You Can), you may then adjust the thought to “It’s not going to come out perfectly, however, if I keep practicing I’ll get better. Speaking up now is an excellent opportunity to practice public speaking in real time.” This transformed thought boosts your confidence and helps you to speak up.
Develop a Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset keeps you stuck in a particular belief. When you have a fixed mindset, you don’t trust you can change or grow. You think you’ll never be smarter, more talented, a better speaker or good at conflict. The result of holding the belief firmly is that becomes an ongoing attitude of “Why to bother trying?" This stance kills your confidence.
Instead, when you develop a growth mindset, you become open to possibilities. A person with a growth mindset knows that it will take effort and time, however, that it is possible to change themselves.
Grow your growth mindset
To adopt a growth mindset, get better at asking
Believe You Can = Increased Confidence
Shifting your mindset and the way you think can have a profound impact on your confidence level. First, use the Inner Guidance Cycle to become more aware of your thoughts. Then develop a growth mindset that keeps you open to change and possibility. That increased awareness and a mindset shift will heighten your confidence, so you can both have a greater effect on your leadership and feel good in the process.
Confidence is an inner game. That means it comes from inside of you. Confidence is what you think you are capable. That thinking part isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Here are 4 hacks to help train your thoughts so you can feel more confident.
HACK # 1 - Know You Can – Competency
Before you feel any resemblance of comfort doing anything, you need some knowledge of how to do it. Even a guide telling you “step here” helps to feel slightly more confident even if you have never climbed that mountain before. The same is true in leadership. Confidence comes easier when you feel competent.
There are 2 parts to increasing competency:
Training can be formal courses or college or university programs. It can also be reading a book, attending a webinar, or talking to a mentor. Training is increasing your knowledge and skills.
Knowledge by itself doesn’t do a whole bunch for your confidence level. It is when you start applying the knowledge that you start to excel. Regular practice turns you from bumbling around to proficient and then to skilled or excellent.
TAKE ACTION: What area do you need to bump up your knowledge level? How can you practice this skill more?
For example, perhaps you avoid conflicts. You may decide that reading a book such as The Anatomy of Peace. That completes only half of the equation. Working your way through the suggestions in the book during staff meetings, at one-to-one supervision sessions with employees or in conversations with your board member, will allow you to hone the skills.
HACK # 2 - Believe You Can - Mindset
Do you remember reading The Little Engine that Could? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….
Confidence is what you think you can do….
Rather than telling ourselves I think I can, we spend more time listening to the overactive Gremlins in our mind that are doubting we can.
I don’t think I can! This isn’t going to work! I can’t handle this!
These inner doubting voices leave us in a persistent state of hesitation and uncertainty. Starting to get a handle on what is going on in your mind and shifting those thoughts to more helpful ones are critical to adopting a confident mindset.
Your Inner Guidance System (thoughts, feelings and body sensations) will help shift your mindset. Learn to use the Inner Guidance Cycle, and you will be well on your way!
TAKE ACTION: Take regular pauses during your day to noticing (ponder) reoccurring thoughts. Consider what shifts (pivots) you can do in your thinking to get you back into more confident action (proceed).
HINT – Learning the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle will help you do this more automatically throughout your day (Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed)
Watch this to learn more about the Inner Guidance Cycle
HACK # 3 - Act Like You Can - Courage
Most of us spend a lot of time hanging out in our comfort zone staying safe. We are waiting to feel confident before we move forward. The problem is that action comes before feeling.
You don’t feel the bonds of friendship with someone until you act friendly towards them. Love doesn’t emerge until you’ve demonstrated loving actions towards another. Often the act of dancing then makes you feel joyful.
Confidence often comes AFTER you’ve been courageous. When you step outside of your comfort zone, your comfort zone grows larger.
Remember the action of courage and confidence comes before the feeling of confidence. So, lean into your fear. It’s where you will also find your confidence growing.
TAKE ACTION: Notice where you are uncomfortable and even a little fearful. What action can you take there, that will grow your comfort zone.
For example, you may be uncomfortable speaking up at meetings and sharing your ideas. The place then to take action is at an upcoming meeting. Even though it feels awkward or even scary, voice your opinion once.
HACK # 4 - Stand Like You Can - Posture
Think about a shy, awkward teenager. Now consider a meek, timid woman. Then reflect on a yellow-bellied coward. What’s the body position of all of them?
Then think about a confident, self-assured person. How about an influential leader? Consider a strong, inspiring speaker. You get the picture already don’t you? Their body posture is entirely different.
The second body posture, not only conveys messages to others, but it also releases hormones in your body that makes you feel more confident. Try shifting the way you are standing and sitting, so you are in a more confident position. The change in your body posture will make you feel more confident.
ACTION ITEM: Practice your body posture in the mirror. Slouch and pull in. Consider speaking up at a meeting or addressing a conflict with staff. Then stand up tall and roll your shoulder’s back. Notice how different you feel in the second pose.
The 4 confidence hacks
In the coming weeks, I will go into these hacks in more detail. Already thought, you can start to apply these ideas to increase your confidence levels so you can achieve the desired impact you want in your leadership.
Becoming an exceptional leader doesn’t simply take time. Extraordinary leaders hone their skills, develop certain talents and craft their powerful impact with ongoing intention. Are you committed to that journey?
Mastery of leadership is a journey
Those that we Judge to be masterful leaders likely knew that for them to become an expert leader in their field, they would need to commit to a process of continuous growth and development. That commitment and the continued effort allowed them to excel. Their journey was similar to that of a master chef’s, a karate master’s experience or the process a master pianist went through. It took time, dedication and effort.
It's more than taking some training
Mastery is an ongoing journey of learning and growth. We don't typically talk about mastery in leadership. Instead, we focus on skill development, taking some training or participating in a professional development opportunity. All of those are important, but they are only pieces. Each training is a tool to use on your way to mastering leadership. You must use the tool, practice with it and excel at it.
Your title doesn't make you great
You can become a leader simply by getting a title. Add to that your job description, a group of employees and a budget to manage. All of that puts you in the position, but none of it will make you a great leader.
Applying your learning is key
Once you realized that, you may realize you need some more training and assistance to work on your leadership skills. Perhaps you read a book on leadership. Maybe you take a course or two on communication, budgeting, and strategic planning. That still will not magically make you a great leader. However, if you read a book and start to apply what you're learning, you're probably going to be a better leader. If take the courses and work on using the skills you were trained in, you are going to be an even better leader.
Critically evaluate and improve yourself
It is when you continually apply your learning that you begin to master certain skills. By evaluating how you are doing, learning from failures, trying new strategies and continually investing in bettering yourself that you will find you begin to truly excel.
The problem for many leaders is that they settle. They get to the point of being a mediocre leader or someone with average skills and they stop. They believe they are good enough to get by. They cease to take training on particular leadership skills. These “ok” leaders may focus on other team members their skill development.
Be the leader who stands out
If you are different, if you want more than that, perhaps it’s mastery you are looking for. If “good enough,” isn’t good enough, consider focusing on mastery.
Mastering leadership takes a long time
To become a masterful leader means that you're going to work on this, quite frankly, for years. Perhaps even your whole life. If you want to be a masterful leader, you know that you are going to continue to grow and develop and learn and train and apply what you've learned and learned some more and take some more. It's about a process. Mastery is a journey of continuing to develop yourself.
There is no endpoint
Know now that you will likely never actually reach the point of being the best or perfect or even a “Master.” If you ever talk to somebody who you consider to be a master at something, they will probably tell you they don't know everything thing. In fact, they've only dipped their toe it. Those that we deem as masters know that there's so much more for them to learn, so they continue to learn and grow.
Commit to a lifelong pursuit of excellence
To master leadership means that you're committing yourself to a lifelong journey. It is like pledging to yourself that you will persistently learn, grow, develop and improve yourself.
I'm going always to be working on my skills, my strengths, my areas that maybe aren't so great. I'm going to continue to explore where I can grow even more. I'm going to continue to look inside and figure out
Start with mastering your confidence
If you want to keep growing and developing yourself, it's important to realize that this isn't always going to be an easy journey. You will make mistakes. You will fumble. It will be weird, scary and downright painful at times. You are going to need to step outside of your comfort zone routinely, to get to the point of excellence. To do that, you'll have to move forward with confidence. The confidence isn't in knowing you can handle it, but the confidence that you will figure it out. If you are looking for a tool to help you master your confidence levels, you may be interested in this book.
Be the best you can be today, and work towards being even better tomorrow
Mastery is committing yourself to a lifelong journey of growing yourself. If you want to become the best leader that you can be commit today to continuing to grow. Commit today to never ending this journey of becoming that better leader. Know that you will constantly have the ability to get that much further, to learn a little bit more, to develop a little bit more, to grow a few skills. That's mastery. Continuing on and on and on.
Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors females as they rediscover their purpose, passion and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.
Available on Amazon
I'm here to help you grow your courage & confidence, so you can lead and live a full and rich life.