7 Steps Leaders Must Take for Organizations to be Profitable and Productive in 2020
#2 Learn to lead.
I talk to a lot of executive directors who are weary and nervous because they don’t feel they know how to do certain aspects of the job. Being a leader is a learned behavior. We hear the media, the sportscasters, and the commentators say that sports pros are “born to be an athlete.” No, not really. There are some innate characteristics God puts in us. As far as learning to be a leader, we call it learning, because it’s a learned behavior. We have to put things in our lives that will enable us to learn how to lead. If you are the executive director, director, or board chairman, your title probably implies to some degree that you’re the leader. Sometimes we see a lot of people with the title, but there isn’t a lot of substance to the title. That’s scary. There’s not a lot of follow through with the title. The leader has to be ahead of everyone else. That’s why they’re called the leader. So, if our team doesn’t sense that we’ve stepped out and are in front, leading, then why would they follow? It’s hard to follow someone who’s behind me. We have to step out and lead. What are you doing to lead?
One thing that is important in learning to lead is learning. And an easy way to learn is to read. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” With technology, there’s no excuse to say we don’t have time to read. There are Kindles, Nooks, electronic books. There’s audio. We can plug it in and listen. We don’t even have to read it—we can just listen to books. There are some great books that will give us wisdom about being leaders.
In our culture, there’s a lot of talk about leadership development. Leadership development concentrates on the competency of the leader and will help grow our skill sets so we may be more effective at being fruitful at our jobs.
But leader (no “ship”) development is about the character of the person. We must be willing to learn what things we, as leaders, need to be sharpening when it comes to our character: dealing with people, dealing with conflict, responding appropriately, etc. To be effective as leaders, we need to work both on leadership development and leader development.
Another way to grow as a leader is to bring people from the outside in. Often times we don’t do that because we aren’t really willing to receive an honest evaluation of where we are at the present.
There is nothing like having an outside set of eyes to come in and see something for the first time. We may discover something we’ve never noticed before. There is nothing like an honest opinion from someone who cares about us but doesn’t work in our organization. As leaders, we need it. And our organization needs it.