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February 2007 Edition of Leadership Tools Monthly News has arrived!
February 22, 2007

Planning Leadership Development
Nature vs. Nurture


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Volume V - February, 2007 Issue

  1. Lessons-in-Leadership
    • Leadership Development – Nature vs. Nurture
  2. Meeting for Results
    • Planning for Personal Development
  3. Reader Meter
    • Reader Feedback

Lessons In Leadership

Leadership Development
Nature vs. Nurture

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."
- John F. Kennedy

Often we hear the term “a born leader”, as if by some miraculous design nature has manifested our greatest and most notable leaders through history.

This notion of “a born leader” is a myth. While nature does certainly provide us each with special talents, unique qualities and specific tendencies – nature does not create an effective leader.

Leadership is developed through nurture, not nature.

Only through study, life experience, focused effort and personal investment are we able to become a more effective leader.

To illustrate the point of nurturing our leadership skills, imagine a typical crossword puzzle.

How often does anyone complete a crossword puzzle by first answering, in numerical order, all of the down questions, then all of the across questions?

Answering all of the questions in order virtually never completes the puzzle. Rather, you read through many questions before finding one you can answer. One by one you answer a down question, then an across question, and only after skipping back and forth many times; getting hints here and there, can you eventually complete the entire puzzle.

Nurturing your leadership skill works much in the same way. Many times as a new leader you are confronted with issues you aren’t sure how to handle – so you must look around, often using many different resources, in order to get your questions answered.

As this process continues, we eventually acquire a solid foundation of information, tools and resources that we can utilize repeatedly in our leadership role.

Our personal development and growth in the area of leadership is never complete. As the world changes or as an industry changes - so must we change in order to better serve the people we lead.

So the question you must ask yourself is: “Am I investing in myself today in order to become a better leader for my team?”

If you were planning a trip to a country you’ve never visited before, who would you prefer to have help you with planning your trip? A) a travel agent B) a tour guide

Let’s face it, anyone can go online today and book a plane reservation or lodging. The right answer is to use a tour guide because this person has actually been to the place you want to visit.

As a leader, it’s extremely difficult to take others to a place you’ve never been.

Nurture your leadership skills on an ongoing basis. Never assume that nature has provided you all that you need – it hasn’t.

Become the tour guide that your team deserves.

"The question, 'Who ought to be boss?', is like asking,
'Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?'
Obviously, the man who can sing tenor."

- Henry Ford

Meeting For Results

Planning for Personal Development

"Nothing happens, until something moves."
- Albert Einstein

It’s still quite early in the New Year and it’s important that every leader is completely honest about what he or she plans to do to improve their effectiveness as a leader.

Why, you ask? For many reasons – one of which is to ensure your own sense of personal well being. As you learn and grow, you enrich your life as well as the lives of those around you. By stretching yourself you fuel your ambition to achieve higher levels of production and you improve your sense of personal achievement.

Continuous personal development lays the foundation for every future achievement in your life.

As a leader, you can also share this gift with your team members by inviting them to commit to acquiring a new skill or to complete a new leadership development program. (Some great tools and resources we recommend can be found here at no cost.)

In your next meeting, talk to your team about how you have personally benefited, and continue to benefit, through proactive personal development.

  1. Take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm with your team about all the various leadership tools and resources that are available to them. Share with your team some of the tools you already use as a result of your own leadership journey. Ask each team member to share what they would like to learn. What skills would they like to acquire?
  2. Get them to write down on paper, specifically, how their lives would benefit if they were to achieve their goal.
  3. Establish a clear timeline for completion. For instance, “Within the next 6 months I will complete X.”
  4. Over the next week, meet with each team member one-on-one and decide together what their personal development goal is. Discuss in detail why the goal is important and make sure they can truly visualize their future success. Establish a time to regularly check in on their progress.

Most importantly, don’t ever let a day pass from the point in time that you set a goal without taking action toward the achievement of that goal.

For instance, if you’ve decided to complete a new program – ORDER IT! If you’ve decided to take a class – CALL TO GET THE SCHEDULE AND SIGN UP! If you are determined to learn a new skill – ASK SOMEONE TO BE YOUR MENTOR!

Get in the habit of taking swift and decisive action. You’ll be amazed how quickly the second step presents itself once the first step is taken. Enjoy the journey.

"Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters."
- Nathaniel Emmons

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