Two Ways to Grow as a Leader
Growth in leadership is something every leader in the world will tell you they want. Yet, too few are willing to pay the price. Why is that? Because it requires sacrifice.
Two key ways a leader grows is by:
1. Reading and Listening to Speeches, Talks, Q&A's and Messages From Leaders You Want to Emulate. My literary hero, F. W. Boreham, used to sit in courtrooms and listen to articulate attorneys as they prosecuted or defended cases. He said listening to their oratorical skills made him a better communicator.
Do you want to carry people to greater heights around a common cause? Listen to Winston Churchill. Do you want people to imagine along with you a more preferred future? Hear again the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Do you want to know how to hold's people attention? Listen to Abbott and Costello!
A good leader will listen and read other leaders; a great leader will learn from other leaders. It's amazing to me that some people who are in leadership positions will not sit at the feet of other leaders. We have so much we can learn if we exhibit a little humility, keeping our mouths closed and our ears open.
2. Do What It Takes to Meet with a Leader You Respect. Call or write a leader you respect and ask for a meeting time over coffee or lunch. Take 15 minutes if that's all you can get. Go in with questions and don't talk about yourself, your organization, or ministry. Listen and learn. Get on a plane or drive for hours and pay the price to get there.
It's not always convenient to meet with great leaders; sometimes we live nowhere near where they reside or work. Do what it takes to get some time with him or her. I have done this dozens of times, and in looking back, I realize that I have never been turned down when I’ve asked to meet with someone! And it's certainly not because they have heard of me and want to sit at my feet - it's because great leaders want to raise up other great leaders.
Here is how I meet with leaders who are ahead of me:
1. I call or email their assistant/secretary, (and prepare yourself: many high-capacity leaders have more than one assistant), introduce myself and tell them what I would like to do and make the request. They will usually tell me the best way to go about this with their boss. I always shoot for an in-person meeting; a Zoom or FaceTime call is second best, but I'll take it.
2. I communicate with the leader in the manner described to me by their assistant. This is usually accomplished by sending an email to the leader I would like to meet with, telling him/her a little about myself, copying the assistant I spoke with, and that I would like to ask them some questions about leadership.
I also make the following commitments:
a) I will fit into their schedule (I'm happy with whatever time and location I can get).
b) I will not be late for our appointment (I always make sure to arrive 15 minutes early).
c) I will not talk about myself or my ministry unless asked.
d) I will come loaded with questions.
3. In my letter, I ask the leader to toss me a few convenient times and I make all the arrangements with the assistant.
4. I meet with the leader, ask heaps of questions, take my moleskin notebook with me and write furiously.
5. I make sure to stay within my time limit and leave a thank you gift with him or her upon leaving.
The first time I followed this plan, I ended up scoring a two-hour lunch with mega-church pastor.
I have gleaned an incredible amount from these leaders who are often more than a few steps up from where I am at present.
Here is my challenge: make the sacrifice necessary to meet one-on-one with a leadership hero of yours and learn, learn, learn!
What leader would I like to meet with?
What would I like to learn from that leader?
What would it take for me to meet with him or her? What’s stopping me?
Make it happen! And let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear your story.