The following is adapted from It’s Never Just Business.
If you’ve been a leader for very long, you know leadership is not about you. It’s about developing the potential of your team to solve problems and enable success.
This is just one of the principles that effective leaders hold dear. If you’d like to develop your leadership even further, this article has five ways to do just that.
The first step that will guide all the others is to determine your values.
#1: Discover Your Values
When it comes to your values, you don’t have to start from scratch. If you know what you value, great! Skip to point #2. If you don’t, this step will help you get started.
Google “list of values,” and you’ll find a ton of massive lists.
Here are some examples I found from the first Google result:
And that was just from the first five letters of the alphabet!
Somewhere—use a journal, sheet of paper, or online document—write down every value that resonates with you. Then, take as long as you need to and narrow that list down to your top five values. Put the list away for a week and then take it back out.
Do you still feel strongly about those five? If so, you have your top values.
#2: Create a Purpose Statement
Using the values you listed, create a purpose statement. It needs to be succinct and measurable. Think about the impact you want to have on people and consider how you want people to describe you and the impact you had on them.
When you’re done, your purpose statement should feel incredibly meaningful, somewhat aspirational, and achievable. Your first statement will be messy and will probably change in the next few months, but that’s okay.
Remember, baby steps come before you can run.
Once you have your purpose statement written down, share it with people.
See how it feels to say it out loud. It will probably feel very awkward at first, but it will allow you to get feedback and refine. My leadership purpose statement changed a lot at first; the one I am sharing with you below just stuck! It felt right.
My leadership purpose is “to inspire people to reach for THEIR potential.”
#3: Reflect on Your Purpose Statement
You’ve just come up with something beautiful and amazing—something that inspires you. You’re probably not living it today, though, because you just came up with it!
To become the leader you want to be, you need to come back to your statement often. Be present and reflect on it at least once a week, if not more.
Make an appointment on your calendar for five minutes, ten minutes, or thirty minutes, because the more it gets in front of you, the more likely you’ll catch yourself when you’re not living up to it. Remember, leadership is about the journey.
#4: Create an Improvement Goal
An improvement goal is specific to something you want to improve. After spending some time living your leadership purpose, it’s time to define an improvement goal.
My current improvement goal is:
To consistently have the patience to lead without the need to solve.
When I catch myself jumping in or calling the shots, I’m not only violating who I want to be, I’m also violating my improvement goal. Similar to the value statement, write this goal down and check on it several times throughout the week.
#5: Commit to a Lifelong Practice
Do not beat yourself up in the beginning of this journey.
If you do, you’re more likely to abandon this process of leadership growth—a lifelong practice. We are wired to get it wrong because we are wired to play for ourselves.
Leadership is hard. Live in it. Stick to it. Be honest with yourself. When you get something wrong, acknowledge the issue, and recommit to your purpose statement.
You’ll make mistakes, but that’s OK. You’re not called to be perfect.
You’re called to be a leader.
For more advice on developing your leadership, you can find It’s Never Just Businesson Amazon.