3 steps to becoming a better leader

What if 2023 was the year you took a significant step forward in your leadership? Maybe that’s already part of your personal goal setting or strategic planning for your ministry. If it’s not, maybe it should be!

The concept of developing as a leader is so broad and potentially intangible – it can be hard to know where to start.

So, here’s a basic 3 step plan that might be a useful stepping off point. And it centers around just one idea – one area of focus.

I listen to lots of productivity and personal development experts, leading thinkers and researchers in the fields of time management, habits and goals – as well as tracking leaders whose insights I value because they exemplify ongoing growth in their own leadership and ministry. So these three steps are a hybrid of what I am understanding to be best practice.

1. Choose an area of focus

Just one! Think of an aspect of your personal life or leadership engagement that, were you to improve in that area, it could make a significant overall difference.

It could be in relation to your physical health – poor sleep, eating or exercise patterns can have dramatic impact on how you show up. It could be in public speaking or team leadership, in spiritual disciplines like rhythms of prayer or retreat, or managing conflict or in relation to feedback or being better at responding to failure or criticism. It could be many things but what’s the one thing in your personal or professional life that if you made some advancements in that area if could have the greatest impact on your broader life and leadership?

Choose just one thing.

2. Choose one action

What’s one action step you could take toward the goal of improvement in your chosen area?

Again, just one thing. Be specific.

“Get healthy” is not going to cut it. It’s not measurable or practical enough to get you mobilised. But maybe go to bed 30 minutes earlier or ride to work one day a week would be more accessible, achievable and subsequently more likely to happen.

It could be to read or listen to books or podcasts on emotional intelligence, or dealing with conflict. It could be to approach someone to invite into a regular practice of intentional feedback.

Again, just one thing. We’re putting the cookies on the bottom shelf so we are most able and likely to access them (unless your goal is around disciplined eating – put something else on the bottom shelf!).

In your one are of desired growth and improvement what is one practical step you could take to head you in your preferred direction?

3. Put it in your calendar!

How can you manage your time this year, the rhythm of work and life flow, and the challenge of competing demands for your focus and energy to make space for your intentional growth step?

If it can’t be calendarised it probably won’t happen. So now, at the start of a new year is the perfect time to carve out intentional space in your weeks or months to make room for this investment in your own development.

If you’re digital, you could set a recurring alarm to remind you to do what you need to. You could put appointment times in your calendar as space you’ll guard to give attention to your commitment. You might need to contact someone and sync some calendar times to meet with them.

Our best intentions often fall victim to the encroaching of … well … life! into our discretionary spaces. So they must be given planning priority if they are going to be engaged in with the regularity, consistency and energy needed for them to have the desired impact on our growth.

Choose one thing – how are you needing or hoping to grow as a leader?

Choose one action – what’s one achievable, measurable step you could take towards growth in that area?

Calendarise it! Plan it into the scope of your year. Prioritise it so that it doesn’t get relegated by all the things that would compete for the resource of your time, attention and energy.

And a bonus tip – tell someone about it! Say it out loud – put it in print and give someone permission to hold you accountable to what you want to do because of who you want to be.

It may seem like you don’t have time to invest in your own development and growth but the reality is that you don’t have time not to. Your ministry and teams will benefit from any strengthening of your ability and capacity to lead in ways that will multiply the effectiveness of your time and efforts.

Don’t keep putting it off. Don’t de-list it as a priority. This could just be your year!

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