The number one quality I look for in a potential leader is personal growth. And that’s because without a track record of leading yourself, there’s no guarantee you can develop my team.
I once asked a young woman I was interviewing for a leasing position with my property management company if she had a growth plan and what it was. Her response was something like, “I want to be hired as a leasing consultant and, in five years, possibly be a manager.” While her response showed a hint of ambition, it told me nothing about how she planned to get there.
Her “growth plan” was just a goal…a want…really no more than a wish. How did she plan to get there? What was her strategy to become the person who I would hire as a manager? Had she even considered what she would have to give and what she might have to give up? I wasn’t about to invest in her as a leader when I couldn’t determine if she was even able to lead herself.
Growth doesn’t just happen, it takes intentionality. And it says a lot about a person’s character. First, a growing person has cultivated a sense of self-awareness. Creating a growth plan requires that you know your current reality and have a sense of your potential.
A growing person values oneself. People with low self-images don’t invest time and money in seminars, books, classes. If you’re not willing to bet on you, why should anyone else?
People who are growing intentionally know the value of the pause. Most of us have heard the quote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Reflection is such a key to the growth process. With all that time spent learning new skills, or gaining self-awareness, the growth happens in the application and reflection of your successes and failures.
Create a Conducive Environment
One of my favorite quotes is, “If you’re always at the head of the class, you’re in the wrong class.” Are you surrounding yourself with others who are ahead of you in your desired growth area? Are you continually challenged? Have you found people who are affirming of your growth and/or model growth for and expect it from you? If you can’t answer yes to all or most of these questions, you may need to change the people with whom you spend the most time.
Ask Questions…Especially “Why?”
Curious people thirst for knowledge and asking why stimulates the imagination. We are challenged by so many distractions to sit in our imaginations. So many of our questions can be answered with the little computers we carry around in our pockets everywhere we go. Easy access to answers doesn’t exercise our thinking muscles and often causes us to settle for the easy solution. When was the last time you asked a question and DIDN’T search Google? It’s so easy to just get someone else’s answer, but your growth comes in the discovery process, not the result.
Follow Thought Leaders
According to Denise Brosseau with Thought Leadership Lab, thought leaders are informed, innovative and inspiring. It doesn’t matter what field you are in, you can find them. (Remember that little computer in your pocket I referred to above?) Some of my current favorites include Seth Godin, Brene Brown, and if you enjoy reading, the team at Next Big Idea Club curates the best new science-backed reads on actionable topics.
Get a Coach
Personal and business coaches provide the greatest accountability for those pursuing growth. A good coach will help you define what growth matters to you, create a plan to pursue it, and keep you on track as you move forward. Finding a coach doesn’t have to be difficult. With the coaching industry topping $1 billion in 2018, there are plenty from which to choose. Look for someone whose methodology seeks to find answers within YOU, not someone who claims THEY have the answers you need.
As you pursue your own personal growth, a natural result will be your increased ability to help others to do the same. Don’t be surprised if your growth is an attraction factor to others, multiplying your efforts and impacting your team and the leaders around you.
“Only growth guarantees a better tomorrow.” ~ John Maxwell