Have you ever considered yourself to be “in training” as a leader? I believe leaders are always in training. There are continuous risks to take, failures to experience, competitors to analyze and lessons to learn. Although there are achievements and celebrations, it takes grueling efforts to gather, align, and inspire people to achieve a goal. Of course there are many days when you can perform, even effortlessly, and on those days when everything comes together and you “nailed it”, it is only because you have been putting in the hard work to get you there.
Some people think leaders are born, not made. Occasionally there are leaders who happen to be over the top inspirational, such as Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln and Oprah, to name a few. But the majority of leaders consciously work at leading their organizations and teams through daily actions and communication that make them powerful leaders. Jim Loehr, PhD, and Jack Groppel, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, used the term “Corporate Athlete” to describe the leader similarly to an athlete. An athlete who is focused on performing at their best and committed to the training required to make that happen.
I am in full agreement with this concept. I focus a lot of my work using the analogy that leaders are athletes. In other words, they are working at being a leader by learning new skills, practicing through failure and successes, competing, recovering, and taking care of their physical, mental and spiritual health to be in the best shape to perform at their job.
The typical client of mine confesses that this training is hard work. Executive coaching is not the training itself, rather it is a process to assist leaders in their training. Maybe this is semantics, but in reality, a great coach empowers the leader to embrace their strengths, learn through their experiences and challenge the leader. Making a mistake when presenting to the board of directors or learning that a team member quit because of your management style provides the “learning opportunity” for you to grow, change and keep improving.
Are you a leader? The term is used in many ways. Simply, a leader is a person who leads or commands a group. Technically, anyone can be a leader. Followers can be gained not just from an assigned team or direct reports, but also from peers, the public sector, volunteers, or even in your family.
Wherever you choose to be a leader in your life, I offer up the idea that you see yourself like an athlete in training. The journey never ends as long as you stay in the game. Along with every experience you get more proficient, your habits come naturally, and there are more successes and celebrations!
Get started today by focusing on one thing you would like to improve. Imagine how you would like to be in 90 days, and then begin working every day on one or two specific actions that will get you there. Check out my three minute leadership videos on my coachjuliecompton YouTube channel for ideas, or read my new book, Rise To The Top. It is never too late to be a better leader. Even if you are at your personal top in your career, are you at your personal best?
Julie Compton, PhD