Great leaders are all about maximizing potential, leaving a legacy and efficient use of their time. They are focused, fast paced and forward thinking. While all of these attributes have their pros and cons, there is one undeniable result from the combination of them all. Great leaders love leading other potential leaders!

CAN YOU KEEP UP?

At this point in my journey, I’d say I’m pretty far from being a great leader. I’m not being modest or humble in saying that, I seriously have a lot to learn. Either way, I do pray that I’m at least heading in the right direction. Yet, even at my level of leadership, I’ve already narrowed my focus, increased my speed and developed a strong dislike of time-wasters (people and things).

I find that I naturally gravitate to people who can “keep up”. Meaning, those who are able to see where we are and where we are trying to get to, but in addition to that, are self-starters in doing the work needed to get there. People who are great leaders of themselves require less “hand-holding”, which can be an unwanted break in a leaders’ pace. Self-leaders also glean best from on the job coaching, because they always looking for ways to build their experience. They do well at watching the leader, asking great questions, and testing their findings in order to boost their growth.

I find that this trait of leading leaders is a characteristic displayed clearly in the leaders I study and I’m certain, the leaders you study as well.

Great leaders love leading other leaders!

POTENTIAL IS ATTRACTIVE

The Cheap Secret of Savvy Leaders

Great leaders have a habit for recognizing other potentially great leaders and gravitating towards them. They desire to lead and pour into the young but potentially great leader because they know that the young leader will be able to go further than they ever could if prepared properly. It’s in the DNA of a great leader to ensure a great legacy, and this is primarily done by developing other. You could imagine then that the work is slightly easier with others who have taken the initiative to build their experience and seek personal growth. The thought or idea of having to lead someone who has not shown this kind of self-starting initiative simply communicates as more work with potentially fewer results. Not that great leaders are unwilling to take on this task, it simply isn’t their first preference. On rare occasions, a leader may see an opportunity to mold an inexperienced young leader for specific reasons. But that is the exception, not the rule. An additional thought to remember is that while the potential is attractive, it is not enough. Potential may open the door to great opportunities with great leaders, but work ethic keeps the opportunity alive. Self-leaders not only take initiative but are results oriented as well. The aptitude to be a self-starter or to take initiative is a valuable leadership skill at all levels. However, if you are unable to finish what you start or finish well, that skill loses it’s appeal quickly. The ability not just get things started, but to get things done well is a sign to those in leadership that you are interested in growth and ready for more responsibility.

While the potential is attractive it is not enough! Potential may open the door to opportunities with great leaders, but work ethic keeps the opportunity alive.

SELF-LEADER, NOT SELFISH

One final note on being a leader that great leaders love to lead. You’re not a leader if no one is following! Here’s what I mean. Young leaders often get so caught up with impressing superiors that they forget their peers. Leadership is a team sport! Keep in mind that almost every professional athlete trains both individually and with their team. If you find that you can’t work well with others to accomplish a single goal or task, it should be your priority to improve that skill. Otherwise, you risk bringing your poor people skills into great leadership opportunities and needless to say, that never ends well… for anyone. Working well with others serves as an indicator to great leaders about your leadership skill and can create more growth opportunities for you. The goal in leading yourself well is not to undercut the strengths of others but to recognize and develop your own. This allows you to do a few important things. First, you will be able to easily recognize your own weaknesses as you work on your strengths and determine more clearly the skills you need on your team to compensate for what you lack. Second, you will be positioned well to encourage the growth and development of the people on your team instead of being intimidated by them. Finally, leading yourself well releases you from relying solely on those ahead of you for creating opportunities for personal growth and development. Meaning, your potential will not be limited by your position.

The goal in leading yourself well is not to undercut the strengths of others but to recognize and develop your own.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

The leadership secret you need to know is that great leaders love leading other leaders. If you’re hoping to grow into a greater leadership opportunity, then start by becoming a great self-leader. Identify the vision, mission or goal set before your team and begin to work stubbornly towards it. Begin small by taking initiative, planning ahead and finishing your small goal well. Pinpoint areas you can grow in, like working well with others and even leading projects in a way that allows the strengths of your team to shine. Determine to win as a team and your team will want you to win as their leader.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by subscribing with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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When I was in college I read the book Great Leaders Grow by Kenneth H Blanchard for the first time.  It was the first time in my life that I can remember feeling overwhelmingly inspired to become a great leader. I knew that in many of the circles that I found myself in, that I often emerged as the leader. This was exciting to me, but I had no idea how it happened or even how to navigate it well. There was no hope (or intention for that matter) of retaining my place as a leader in any place I earned the role.

Then came Kenneth H Blanchard. In a very simple way, he shares about leadership longevity and how to achieve it. I won’t quote you the whole book, but there was a quote that reshaped my approach to leadership and legacy building. In the book, Mr. Blanchard wrote that “Growth is a leaders fountain of youth”. This wasn’t new information to me. It was just stated in a way that stuck!

“Growth is a leaders fountain of youth.” – Kenneth H Blanchard

The Cost of Coffee

As leaders, whether of ourselves or others, we have a responsibility to stay relevant. It is our job to be informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it. This means we need to find a consistent and hopefully cheap way to grow! Now we can look into costly classes, impersonal podcasts, or even building a library of leadership books we may find the time to read eventually. None of these are bad, but rarely do they work out to be consistent or cost effective long term.

“As leaders, it is our job to stay informed about how times are changing and learn what needs to change with it and stay ahead of it.”

Starbucks Coffee

This is where we get to the cost of a cup of coffee. A decent cup of coffee may cost you about $3.00 depending on where you go. I know that a freshly brewed Venti at Starbucks is currently about $2.45. Now you and I are both aware there are people in our lives that we can learn from. People who are either exactly where we want to be or heading in the same direction and just happen to be a little ahead of us. Don’t ignore those people!

I’ve found that cheapest and most consistent growing experiences available to us is a cup of coffee with someone more experienced than us. Someone who doesn’t mind allowing us to learn from their experience so that we can go further, faster. A few minutes over a cup of coffee could have saved me thousands of dollars in a bad business move as an artist last year, but I chose to learn the hard way. Never again!

“I’ve found that the cheapest, and most consistent way to keep growing is getting a cup of coffee with someone who will let you learn from their experiences, good or bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I listen to leadership podcasts, audiobooks, read physical books and more. However, there’s value to being able to ask situation-specific questions and get real-life experience answers. Also, it’s important to be able to get objective feedback on a risky decision from someone who knows where you want to go and how to help you get there.

“Growing is sometimes as simple as getting a better handle on an area of life that seems to always get the best of you.”

I must confess that I’m not actually a “coffee” kind of guy, but I really enjoy a hot cup of tea. So this is my suggestion, take the initiative to grab someone you know you can grow from and grab a cup of coffee (or tea) together and ask them the tough questions. Get a better insight on different aspects of life. Work, play, relationships. Prepare specific questions that are tied to the areas you’re determined to grow in and don’t forget, pay for their coffee! It’s the least we can do for the time their giving to us.

So if you can’t afford to attend the next John Maxwell Conference, or personally meet with Andy Stanley then let this be another option for you or in addition to those.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

If growth is a leaders fountain of youth, then we need to make sure we secure an inexpensive and consistent means of continual growth. Paying for one or two cups of coffee a month for someone we can learn and grow from is by far one of the most accessible and cheap methods to keep growing today.

  1. Grab yourself a Joe (or Pete, or Sarah, or whatever the person’s name is) and ask them to commit to meeting with you once (or twice) a month for at least 3 months.
  2. Have questions ready for them and be prepared to learn.
  3. Finally, check back here after the three months and let me know how it went!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email so you’ll never miss a post. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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Mentors are NOT one size fits all.

This something I learned early as an ambitious young leader. I was ALWAYS looking (and still am) for who I could learn from next. This, by the way, is a good trait to have. However, I was never taught that not everyone who happens to know more than me in my field of work, or an area of life that I wanted to grow in, was the right mentor for me. As a result of my ignorance in this I had a few unfortunate coffee dates with potential mentors where we both walked away probably thinking, “Let’s NEVER do that again!” While there were others that I happened upon that was the perfect fit!

“Mentors are NOT one size fits all.”

Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well. I eventually realized that some intentionality should go into selecting the people we’re asking to invest time and knowledge in us. We all need a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor that we can learn from. While we can be informally mentored throughout our lives, formal mentorship takes intentionality.

“Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well.”

My foundational filter for selecting a mentor is two-fold. First, I look for someone who is living a principle that I want to learn. Whether it’s for becoming a better husband, a better son, a better employee or another area of life. If they’re living it out that’s my first ✓. The second thing I look for if I am unable to find someone who is already where I want to go is someone who is headed in the same direction but just ahead of me. That’s the second ✓. Then to those two, I add the following three filters.

1 KNOW HOW YOU LEARN BEST

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The first thing we have to ask is, “How do I learn best?” This question is key. How we learn is essentially the container that we’ll use to help us hold on to the knowledge that our mentor passes on. Are you a hands-on learner? Are you visual? Are you an auditory learner? Knowing the answer to this question will help us walk away from that mentorship with the most growth possible. It will help you and your mentor determine how to best navigate the teaching, coaching and learning experience.

Tip: An easy indicator of whether or not you know the answer is to think about how often you’ve wondered to yourself about why you learn really well sometimes but not all the time. If you think about that a lot, chances are you don’t yet know how you best learn and need to spend time figuring that out.

2 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN

A common mistake people often make when entering into mentorship is thinking that they’re going to somehow learn everything from the mentor. This is unrealistic. The mentor will not be able to do that nor will we be able to learn it all. especially in short-term mentoring relationships. I learned that identifying a specific an item that I’d like to walk away with is far more successful.

For example, if you’re a Christian and you admire the spiritual walk of a more mature believer. Instead of trying to learn how to be as spiritual as they are. Try narrowing your focus to learning how to find consistency in your walk with God.

Here’s another example, if you’re new on the job with lots to learn, take few minutes to identify the area you feel the most pressure to deliver on. Identify a core item you can learn and use to improve that specific area on the job. After you’ve done this filtering, then go find a mentor to guide your learning that ONE thing. If you learn other things great!

3 KNOW THE TIME YOU NEED

This third and final filter will likely be one of the most practical tools for both you and your mentor DURING your mentorship. Before we identify a mentor to help us learn, we need to get a clear idea of just how long it may take you to learn it. A couple of hours? Days? Maybe months? My point is that Formal Mentorship should never have an indefinite timeline. That can turn into a dreadful thing for both parties. Whenever we’re entering into a mentoring relationship we should always establish a clear timeline.

If you’re both able to commit to an hour meeting once a month and you know you’ll need at least 3 hours to fully learn the idea or topic well, ask for four meetings. The fourth will reduce the pressure on the first three and allow room for flexibility.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Since mentorship is such an integral part of continuing to develop as a leader, we should have a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor for ourselves. The following three are my filters.

  1. Know how you learn best
  2. Know what you want to learn
  3. Know the time you need

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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When it comes to self-leadership, people get frustrated with themselves very easily, and rightfully so. It’s REALLY hard sometimes! It also doesn’t help that people who seem to do it well, do a poor job at helping the rest of us grow in it. They often give us the practices they use to maintain healthy self-leadership but not how they got to dig deep roots in the very importance of it.

Today, I’m going to give you the secret sauce and the King of the Jungle is going to help.

The King of the Jungle.

The Lion is championed as the King of the Jungle, and rightly so. Lions are fierce, powerful and yet still beautiful creatures. The first and foremost reason lions get this title is the mane that male lions develop as they mature. It’s recognized as their crown. The second is that they remain at the top of the food chain because they are willing to take on prey much bigger than they are.

This characteristic of being willing to take on prey sometimes more than 6 times their size has caused people to think of them as fearless or courageous animals. I think the truth is that they’re just stubborn. They see a meal that they are determined to have and are unwilling to let it slip from their grasp without a fight.

“Stubbornness is the secret sauce of self-leadership.”

Great Leaders Are Stubborn

Great leaders are stubborn about the right things. Sure, sometimes there’s a bit of selflessness and courage, but beneath it all is stubbornness. They are doggedly focused on a preferred future that they’re willing to sacrifice even their life for. The appearance of selflessness or courage is the result of the clarity and confidence that comes with such a sharp focus.

“This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter.”

Clarity puts things in the right perspective and focus helps you ignore the things that would be a waste of your time. When you’re stubborn about a preferred future, then clarity and focus will motivate clear decisions and surface needed sacrifices. This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return, for example, is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter. It creates inside of the leader a concrete hope in the future they’re aiming to create and an unwillingness to give up on it without a fight.

Great leaders like Nelson Mandela, President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are some of the greatest examples of this on a larger scale. Each one was stubborn about a united future for their country. Their decisions were difficult but clear. Their sacrifices were undesirable but I’m certain they saw them as necessary. They were stubborn about a future they simply could not give up on.

“Great leaders are stubborn about the right things.”

The Pocket Potential

The secret sauce of self-leadership is stubbornness. Identify the preferred future you can be stubborn about. It may be a personal fitness goal, a target for your next quarter at work, the restoration of a relationship or success of your business. It’s the future you’re willing to fight for and that you’re dying to create. A future you’d be willing to sacrifice for. When you’ve identified this future, be stubborn about seeing it come to life.

In the next 6 months, where do you hope to be in life professionally, relationally or physically?

  1. Write down a 1 to 2 sentence statement that clearly articulates your goal.
    • Example: 6 Months from now I want to have more energy throughout the day and not feel sluggish. I don’t need to be “buff” but I want to be fit in a healthy way.
  2. Below that statement, write down what you think it would look like if you were stubborn about getting there.
    • Example: I need to be stubborn about getting more sleep at night so I can wake up earlier. Also, I want to work out at least twice a week.
  3. Finally, identify and share your goal with someone you can trust to encourage you to remain stubborn about it until you get there.
    • My accountability would probably be my wife, but a close friend, coworker, or family member is also encouraged.

What will you be stubborn about?

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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