Leadership development 101
“Swim in your own lane.”
A manager at my organization gave me this advice during my days as an auditor. It’s something I never forgot.
Since then, I’ve taken it to heart as I continue to develop as a leader, content creator and business owner. That manager taught me not to get distracted by what other people are doing but to be the person I choose to be and work hard regardless of any negativity.
This is powerful in terms of authoring one’s destiny. I realized that I get to define the type of leader I am. Not my previous bosses. Not my parents. Not my neighbors. It comes down to who I want to be — and the perception that goes with it.
In my experience, developing leadership skills on your own terms provides a significant advantage. It’s no secret that we stand on the shoulders of giants. However, you have your own skills and talents. You can take what you learn from great leaders and apply it in your own innovative way.
I know I have. I decided early on that I didn’t want to be a business leader who was only concerned about the organization's bottom line. Not a chance. Instead, I want to be a servant leader who comes alongside others and helps them. I choose that every day.
Leadership training in real life
There is nothing in this world that prepares you for being a parent.
I’m sure most parents would agree with that statement. There’s no book, training regimen, five-step blog post or weekend course that can mimic the shock and awe that happens with having children.
What do we do instead? We adapt. Then, we adapt some more.
We respond to crisis after crisis after crisis (even if to outside eyes those crises seem insignificant). We adjust to lack of sleep and continue with our “on-the-job training.”
We’re tasked with leading our children from birth until we leave this earth. And we grin and bear it all — because it’s our duty and privilege to do so.
Tell me, how does that not describe what it takes to be a truly great leader? Parenthood, similar to true leadership in any era, is about sacrifice for the sake of others.
That’s just one example of leadership development in your personal life. But leadership is not the exclusive domain of parents. You can develop these same skills if you run a side business, serve on the board of a nonprofit or devote your free time to helping your neighbors. These are examples of real-world training opportunities. In all these instances, you are leading in place.