Three Things that will make you a Better Leader

Just about everyone I know wants to be a better leader.  If they did not, the number of books written and sold on leadership would dwindle and the number of presentations, videos and similar activities would also diminish.  But they keep growing and for good reason.

You may have noticed that my posts this year come in threes.  This is by design because my intent is to focus more and try to go deeper in the areas that make a difference.  My last post was about the best decisions I have made and others include the three most important life lessons I have learned.

We live in a time and place that is starving for good leadership and good leaders.  This is a timeless statement and is not indicative of 2020 or any other year.  There are never enough good leaders.  So this leads to my post today about three things I have experienced that can make you a better leader.  As I said earlier, they are not the only things, but they are three of the most important.

1.  Make a mistake.  The head scratching will begin for some of you when you read this.  Why would a good leader want to make a mistake?  The main reason is that leadership is about doing and people who do things make mistakes and sometimes they make them often.  Making the same mistake repeatedly is not good, but making a mistake is not a bad thing.  Doing nothing is often a bad thing.  Better yet, making a mistake and then digging down to see why the mistake occurred and how it could be avoided in the future, there is the gold in this statement.  As I mentioned earlier, indecision is often much worse than a bad decision and learning from a bad decision can be life altering.

2.  Listen more.  One of my favorite phrases is that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk.  This is rarely the case and it is often a challenge for someone like me.  In many cases my listening is poor because I am thinking about my next response instead of fully engaging and listening to the person I am talking with.  My encouragement to you is to fully engage, with eyes and ears, the person you are talking with and think about nothing other than what they are saying to you.  This may seem hard at first, but with practice you will become better at this.  Others will notice this and they will appreciate your interest and attention.  You will also be surprised at how much you learn when you listen well.  Just ask my wife how she feels when I listen to her, which is not nearly often enough.

3.  Do the right thing.  Actions speak louder than words and what you do speaks volumes when compared to anything you say.  Even more, things that you do when no one is around are not only evolutionary, they can be revolutionary.  We live in a world where fame and attention is craved by many.  We often want to share a post, tweet a statement or share a photo without doing anything for any person we know or come into contact with.  My encouragement to you today is to live a life of small actions, serving others and doing good things that help others and not worry about getting any attention for doing them.  When you start to think more selflessly, the distractions in your life will dwindle and your inner happiness will flourish.  Do the right thing and do it often, especially for someone who has no idea you are doing it.

Being a better leader is about small steps and not giant leaps.  Much like what James Clear posits in his book, Atomic Habits, the biggest challenge we all run into is staying the course and having good processes.  Goals are great but robust processes are priceless.

Make a mistake, listen more and do the right thing.  If those don’t make you a better leader then I don’t know what will.