5 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Better As a Leader

5 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Better As a Leader

There’s no shortage of leadership content available. As you’re reading this article, millions of other people around the world are gaining knowledge on how to become better leaders via YouTube, blogs, audiobooks, and podcasts. The latest statistics show organizational leaders are taking notice and doing their best to help their employees become the leader they were meant to be:

  • Estimated $14 billion a year is spent on leadership development in North America (more than any other area)
  • 27% of organizations are going to spend more on employee development this year than last year

Unfortunately, these investments don’t seem to be paying large dividends.

  • 93% of managers say they need additional training on how to coach their employees
  • 60% of new managers fail within the first 24 months of taking the job

Clearly, there is a gap. Both organizational leaders and professionals know they need to be better leaders, but the application of the content isn’t happening at the level required. If you don’t want to be one of these statistics, here are 5 reasons why you may not be getting better: 

1. You stop at “knowledge acquisition.”

Reading and listening are great ways to acquire knowledge, but if we don’t put what we take in into practice rather quickly, all that time and effort can be for naught. The late great Dr. Miles Munroe used to say, “knowledge is great, comprehension is better, but what we all should be striving for is wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to apply what we learn.”

Think of it like a person interested in golf. If all they do is watch educational videos of others hitting golf balls but they never go out and practice the concepts themselves, they aren’t ever going to get to a level of application. Find ways to quickly apply what you learn, no matter how small or insignificant it feels.

2. You believe your title makes you a leader.

Got a promotion into a management role? Hate to break it to you, but the title change won’t make you a leader. Leadership is about action, not a position. I was on coaching call last week and one of our students said this about her boss, “I just look at him as my manager and not my leader. He never does anything that makes me want to follow him.”

She is right. Just because her boss has the title doesn’t make him a leader. View your development into a leader as a long-term journey instead of a short-term accomplishment, and you’ll earn your influence over time. 

3. You assume you’re better than you actually are.

Generally speaking, people in management roles aren’t the most self-aware professionals. In over 80 percent of the leaders who have completed the BTB Leader Assessment, rate themselves higher than their team rates them. In nearly every case, the a leaders whose style is to Elevate, rate themselves lower than the average of their team. This happens because they know they aren’t a finished product and they never will be.

Regardless of whether or not you think you’re the best leader ever, self-awareness is a critical component to improving, and there’s no place better to gain that knowledge than from than your team. Use a 360° assessment like the BTB Leader Assessment or find another way to get it.

4. You think you were born a leader.

While some of the greatest leaders of all time were certainly born with some leadership DNA, they still had to work to develop their skills over the course of their life. This was found to be true based on research by Leadership Quarterly. They found 24 percent of our leadership comes from DNA, while 76 percent is learned or developed. 

Whether or not you think you have the DNA you still have to work at becoming the leader you were meant to be. No one can do it for you. A disciplined approach is required if you are going to reach your potential. I hope your willing to do the work.

5. You always want to be perfect.

Leading other people is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Even though you might admit to this, you always want to be perfect. When you make errors it drives you crazy and you beat yourself up. While there is nothing wrong with aspiring for perfection, there is no such thing in leadership.

Instead of beating yourself up for not being perfect, turn to courage when you make a mistake. As Mareo McCracken said on an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast: “Courage is the willingness to act in the face of fear, grief, or pain”

No matter how good you get, you will never be immune to errors or making the wrong decision. There will be times when things don’t go according to plan, and that’s okay: It’s called life. Come to terms with it, and have the courage that you are in the right role at the right time.

If you found yourself relating to any of these, congratulations on being self-aware enough to admit your shortcomings. Second, keep in mind one of my favorite Latin phrases: “nunc coepi,” which means “now I begin.” Start fresh today, and know that leadership is a journey and not a destination.  

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn professionals into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.