Why Growth is Non-Negotiable for Leaders

Great leaders keep growing.

The very best leaders I know are hungry to grow. They are internally motivated to keep reading, learning and practicing toward improvement. They are dedicated to personal development.

Great leaders understand that yesterday’s wins do not guarantee future successes.

The best leaders want to become even better leaders to increase their impact for God’s Kingdom.

We learn by experience, observation, mistakes, good coaching, study, prayer, and practice, lots of practice.

In essence, we have to practice what we can’t do until we can. That’s my simple definition and pathway to growth as a leader.

Let me state it again:

It’s more than just study, stimulating roundtable discussions and even great coaching. At some point, you have to practice something new.

Growth, by very definition, involves new things, greater ability, and new territory. If you are doing the same things with the same people repeatedly, that requires no practice. It may require stamina and faithfulness, and both are great attributes, but by themselves do not produce progress.

The primary characteristic that separates those who are faithful from those who are faithful and fruitful is the willingness to pay the price.

Personal development requires deliberate effort, discipline and focus. For example, I heard a recent quote that approximately 50% of those who have joined a gym in 2018 have already quit.

Growth as a leader is like that. It may or may not include a physical gym for you, but it will always require sustained extra effort.

3 Reasons for Growth:

1) Culture changes

Our current culture is changing so rapidly that the only way to genuinely keep up is continued growth/personal development.

As culture shifts, it impacts how we do ministry. We cannot continue to do ministry precisely as we have in the past and remain relevant. That requires change which demands awareness, the ability to adapt and lead at a more advanced level.

2) Life advances

Culture doesn’t shift in a vacuum; it advances in multiple realms such as technology, medicine, communication, politics, business, and education. None of us can keep up with all of that, but without growth we not only can’t keep up, but we’ll also fall quickly behind.

The result is a leader who is out of touch, behind the times, and potentially no longer relevant.

With growth, we can select a few priorities to focus on and “keep up” with life’s advancements. I remember when my mom was 66 years old and taking her first computer course! She understood the importance of continued growth!

3) Challenge increases

When you combine culture shifts with the advancement of life, the result is complexity.

As life and leadership become more complex, the daily leadership challenges we face increase in the level of scope and difficulty.

Again, the way to keep up is to grow as a leader. It’s important not to see this growth as a chore, or a task to complete.

In short, make growth fun! Personal development isn’t easy, but it need not seem like “more work.”

One of the best things about continued growth is that the people who want to grow with you are among the very best people to be around.

They make the process enjoyable. They sharpen, challenge and encourage you.

One of the things I love most about the staff of 12Stone Church is that we are definitely a personal growth-oriented, leadership development environment. The staff are so smart, competent, and full of passion! They help me be a better leader!

5 Results of Growth:

  1. Personal growth sharpens your ability to think.
  2. Personal growth makes you a more interesting person.
  3. Personal growth increases your capacity.
  4. Personal growth enhances your relationships.
  5. Personal growth increases your motivation and energy.

You have to want to grow, and you must keep it simple, or you are likely to throw in the towel.

A Simple Approach:

1) Identify one or two specific areas you want to develop and grow.

Design your growth plan and write it down. If you are not sure where you need to start, ask a trusted advisor or friend who knows you well and is strong enough to tell you the truth.

2) Determine a way you can measure your progress.

How do you know if you are better? How do you assess improvement? Make sure you have that clear before you begin.

3) Get the coaching and guidance you need.

Sometimes you know what to do and how to do it, at least enough to start. At other times, in specific areas, you need a coach or a mentor. Don’t over complicate this part. You can often gain what you need over a long cup of coffee or two with someone who can offer you wisdom and insight.

4) Practice, practice, practice.

All of us get better only by actually practicing what we want to improve. It may be communication skills, hearing the voice of God, recruiting, strategy development, connecting with people, etc.

The list is nearly unending in possibilities. But remember, keep your list short. In fact, working on only one thing at a time, two at the most, is best.

Enjoy the journey of personal growth it’s a lifelong road to travel.

4 thoughts on “Why Growth is Non-Negotiable for Leaders”

    1. Contrell, Good question. It really always starts with setting clear and measurable practical goals. Then you think about the skill you need to improve in order to reach that goal. You measure your growth by your ability to reach a previously unattainable goal. This isn’t always a numeric goal. it may be an attitude, like positivity or generosity. It might be something like hearing God’s voice. All are much more measurable than might seem on the surface.

  1. To quote Kungfu Panda, “If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be better than what you are.” Shifu

    Awesome post!

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