Are leaders born or made? I’m not going to debate the topic, but one thing I have learned through my years is that true leaders never stop learning. When it comes to leadership, everyone has his or her own notion of what leadership looks like. Is it the commanding general, the NFL coach, or the silent leader everyone follows? There are many examples ranging from one extreme to the other.
I’ve personally had the opportunity be in the presence and learn from real, proven leaders throughout my life. First and foremost is my Dad. He worked tirelessly as a teacher and coach for over 38 years helping shape the lives of thousands of high school students. It’s during these formative years that it is especially important to have a strong, positive role model to look up to and learn from. As a college basketball player I worked summer camps for Magic Johnson, one of the all-time great basketball players who led and inspired his team to five NBA championships. I also had the opportunity to listen and learn about leadership and meet Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company. These are just a few examples of those I’ve gained great knowledge from.
At the same time, I worked for managers during my first few years out of college who took leadership as a power trip and ended up demoralizing everyone in their path. Leaders who fail to grow and become stuck are detriment to their company and everyone around them.
You see, the job of a leader is to inspire and lift everyone up to enable them to become the best they can be. It’s a tough job and leaders are human. We will make mistakes and are surely not infallible. However, to be successful, you have to be open to change, absorb new ideas from others, and always be growing as a person. The more you work to better yourself as a leader the more exponential the payoff is to those around you.
So my point is simple. Those who take on leadership roles need to realize that with power comes the responsibility to grow and improve. You have to always be willing to ask yourself, “What can I do to lift up those around me?” You’ll be surprised what you can learn.