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This year for my birthday, my fiancé and I did something we’ve never done in the 10 years that we’ve been together: we attended a leadership development workshop. I know, I know – I got plenty of ribbing for it. And while it might not sound like an exciting way to celebrate, it was; and it was also extremely timely.
Both of our birthdays coincide with the New Year, so it was just what we were looking for to help us set an intention for 2017. It also didn’t hurt that the workshop took place in beautiful Bonita Springs, Florida; when there was a break in the learning, we could walk in the warmth outside.
GiANT Worldwide founders Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram pioneered the workshop (You may remember these two leaders from Leadercast Labs last year.) From the moment the first session began, it was clear that this was not really about professional development; it was about leadership as a lifestyle.
That is, leadership is more than a workshop; more than an event; more than a best-selling book. It is more than series of videos. It’s even more than all of this excellent content combined. It is an ongoing, cumulative, never-ending journey.
The premise of the workshop is that we are all leading, all the time. We might be leading colleagues, our children, and/or ourselves, but we are leading on a daily basis. And we’re either doing it with intention and awareness -- or not.
There are so many ways to develop our leadership skills, competencies and approach, but before we ever get there, we need to ensure that our own values, behaviors and actions – the foundations of a lifestyle – align with our leadership.
What can you do to ensure you are developing your leadership as a lifestyle? Here are several insights I gleaned from the retreat:
1.Your leadership is directly responsible for the culture (or atmosphere) of your organization (or family). If you’re not intentional about your leadership behavior, it’s unlikely that your culture will match the values you believe in. The goal is to manage our mindset. Ask yourself: Are you leading accidentally or on purpose?
2. Leaders who are “liberators” consistently fight for the highest possible good in the lives of others. If you’re a parent, this probably resonates with you. You intentionally, perhaps even naturally, encourage your children to be their best selves. In fact, parents are often the ones (the leaders) who can see the highest possible good even when their children can’t see it in themselves. In the context of your organization, how many people are truly for you? How many of your colleagues would say that you see and encourage the best in them?
3. Know yourself to lead yourself. In previous decades, self-knowledge was not discussed as an element of leadership success; instead, we heard more about leadership characteristics such as innovation, boldness, charisma. However, several studies recently report that high self-awareness is a strong predictor of leadership success (some research says it is the strongest predictor). How much do you know about your tendencies in leadership? What are your patterns of behavior? Do your actions result in the outcomes you’re looking for in terms of other people’s responses? If not, what changes can you make in your behavior to reshape those outcomes – and in essence, reshape your life?
When you begin to answer these key questions, you automatically begin to live your leadership with more intention, self-awareness, EQ. And that’s when leadership transforms from merely being your style to your lifestyle.