We speak frequently about continuous improvement. Clearly, it is the road to success.
There are many approaches to becoming a better leader. We should take advantage of them all because mastery of one helps with the others: feedback from team members, a 360 assessment, a trusted coach, a mentor and role model, or a monthly senior executive meeting to candidly discuss challenges and ways to help one another.
These are all good opportunities. We can get many ideas that will help us improve every day, and also help us to facilitate our teammates’ improvements every day. One additional approach I urge is reading! I encourage us to read at least one book in the leadership genre every month. I nearly always get good ideas and helpful tips from leadership books, and I get excited about what I’ve learned and eager to share it with others.
We can use good ideas about inspiring others, explaining expectations, accountability, handling problems and difficult people, coaching our teammates, “getting to yes,” and the myriad of activities and challenges that we encounter daily.
Not only do I always learn from the wisdom of others, I gain great inspiration as well. I really do. By reading a John Maxwell or Stephen Covey book, for example, or my friend Al Ritter’s The 100/0 Principle, or The Go-Giver by Burg and Mann, I get very energized!
These type of books usually cover topics about listening, relationships, organizational culture, accountability, purposeful questions, and our soft skills, such as putting people at ease. These are just a few examples of so many areas that are critically important to us as leaders.
Further, many of these books reinforce the concept that, as leaders, we are serving others—that leadership must come from our head and our heart if we are going to enjoy sustainable success. We can drive for results, but if we do so at the expense of developing relationships and helping our teammates learn, grow and succeed we will sooner or later lose the hearts and minds of our team, lose their passion, lose their loyalty.
The great news about today’s books is that they are quick reads. Many of these wonderful books today are only between 100 to 300 pages, written conversationally, and use stories to explain their messages. They can be read in a night or two.
I personally prefer to read hard copy books rather then ebooks on my iPad, as I often make notes on the side of the pages and use the small colored note flags to mark their locations. They become a very useful reference.
I have a wonderful library of books across from my desk, so I see it every day and frequently scan the titles for inspiration, thinking of clients and friends who may enjoy and benefit from these books.
In a way, I think that these readings not only help me with my competencies and inspiration, but they also bring me a sense of significance that, as leaders, we are helping others in their careers as well as their lives.
Do you need some help getting started? Check out a list of my favorites here.