To take your career to the next level, you must be willing to invest in continuous learning and development. This is true for those in managerial roles, as well as for those just starting their careers. Knowing how to cultivate these skills, however, may be easier said than done.
Identifying and accepting that there are myths and misconceptions associated with leadership development is the first step towards your growth as a leader. Once these myths have been identified, you can better focus on incorporating leadership basics into your day-to-day life and become an influential leader.
Accel5 has selected the tool’s top three leadership development book summaries, curated exclusively for those looking to overcome the most common leadership roadblocks.
Identify Blind Spots
Many leaders are unaware of how their practices and subconscious beliefs negatively impact their employees. To start understanding the ways in which you can improve yourself as a leader, you must pinpoint the most frequent hardships that those in managerial roles often face.
In “What Are Your Blind Spots?,” Jim Haudan and Rich Berens tackle the most common misconceptions that limit leaders’ success in engaging their teams:
- Purpose. Most leaders recognize that purpose matters in the workplace, but many don’t run their businesses in purpose-driven ways.
- Story. Many leaders think that their organizational stories are compelling, but their employees disagree.
- Engagement. Some leaders use presentations, forums, and town hall meetings as tools for engaging their workforce, but many employees struggle to connect with this kind of content.
- Trust. Many leaders doubt their employees’ abilities and willingness to do the right things at the right times.
- Truth. Leaders tend to think that their employees feel safe enough in the workplace to speak truthfully.
With case studies and insightful stories, the authors show leaders how to conquer these blind spots and foster the innovation, productivity and motivation their teams needs to succeed. Read the entire “What Are Your Blind Spots?” business book summary here, and start tackling the leadership struggles that hold you back.
Get Back to Basics
In order to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to develop strong leadership skills. Knowing how to cultivate these skills, however, may be easier said than done.
In Harvard Business Review (HBR) “Leader’s Handbook,” Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville highlight best practices identified over many decades in HBR, as well as insights from current leaders that can help aspiring leaders focus on the fundamentals.
Despite the fact that the world is now more globalized and complex, organizations are less hierarchical, more networked, and more technologically enabled — leadership, in its fundamentals, hasn’t changed. It’s still about working with other people to achieve common goals.
Leaders need to focus on six basic practices over the course of their careers in order to be successful:
- Creating a unifying vision. Effective visions are simple, compelling, aspirational and bold.
- Developing a strategy to achieve the vision. Good strategies generate customer value, improve organizational performance and create competitive advantage.
- Getting great people on board to execute the strategy. To execute a strategy successfully, organizations must hire talent with the right skills and abilities.
- Driving for results. Organizations are powerful because they can generate collective results that individuals can’t achieve alone.
- Innovating for the future. Innovation increases the likelihood that an organization will grow and sustain performance over time.
- Leading yourself to be the best leader you can be. Successful leaders take the time and effort to lead and develop themselves.
Leaders will spend more time on different practices at different times, depending on their own developmental needs and the issues facing their organization — but they need to keep all six in mind. Leadership matters; without it, important things will not get done. Read the Harvard Business Review “Leader’s Handbook” summary here.
Become an Influential Leader
Aside from the obvious leadership basics, it is important to understand that as a leader, you are in the influential position of affecting how well your direct reports feel, behave and execute their responsibilities on a daily basis. In “Brave Leadership,” Kimberly Davis explains that how you lead is determined by who you are as a person.
Learn how the following strategies can take you closer to being brave — or authentic and intentional in the face of a challenge — and form vital human connections:
- Uncover your barriers to brave. Acknowledge and push past common barriers to authenticity and confidence, including self-limiting statements, confirmation bias, fixed-mindset thinking, gut-level reactions to vulnerability, not being present with others and stereotyped thinking.
- Find your point of focus and some road markers to get there. Define the impact you want to have outside yourself—your super objective—and create intentions to help you correct your course.
- Nurture empathy. Others need to see you as genuine, trustworthy, reliable and believable in order to be influenced by you.
- Become self-aware. Your power comes from your authenticity, not your title. Drop the masks and stop pretending you can have a “work self” and a “private self.”
- Manage your anxiety and stress. Tension extinguishes authenticity. The more specifically you can identify how you personally experience tension, the more easily you can find strategies to release it.
You don’t need to transform yourself, but rather uncover the real you that’s buried beneath self-limiting statements, a variety of masks, a fixed mindset, and other such barriers. Read the “Brave Leadership” book summary here.
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