When it comes to developing your leadership skills, you’d be hard pressed to find an effective fast track method. The truth is, legitimate growth really only comes with serious intention, dedication and experience. You must put in the time and embrace the process. Have you taken the time to evaluate where you are as a leader? If not, let’s take a look at the 5 stages of leadership growth according to John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, to see where you land.
STAGE 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know
When you’re in stage one of leadership development, you don’t yet know what it is that you need to learn in order to grow. Often people in this stage believe that leadership is only for a select few. That’s false. We can all learn to lead and influence others. After all, leadership is simply the ability to influence those around is. It is true, however, that some are natural leaders and others are learned leaders. Natural leaders tend to influence without even realizing it but in order to be a great leader, influence is something you learn to do with intention. Individuals who don’t understand this will often decide not to pursue leadership because they don’t know what they don’t know.
STAGE 2: I Know That I Need to Know
When you’ve gone through stage one and you realize that you don’t even know what you don’t understand yet, you hit stage two. Stage two is the realization that you need to learn something new in order to grow as a leader. You realize that you don’t have all of the answers. You may not know where to start digging yet, but you know that there is something out there that you need to get a hold of. Former British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.” What a brilliant and true statement that is. If you’re going to grow, you need to know that you don’t have all of the answers.
STAGE 3: I Know What I Don’t Know
By stage three of leadership development you’ve come to realize what you don’t know. You’ve spent time with people that are more developed leaders and gleaned from there wisdom. You can see where you fall short but you can also see what you’re aiming for. You’re no longer following a blind path. You know what you need to learn to get better.
STAGE 4: I Know and Grow and it Starts to Show
Once you’ve reached stage four, you’re no longer content with knowing what you need to learn. Stage four encompasses the initiation of daily activity in pursuit of personal growth. You’ve developed a plan of consistency which will help you to become a better leader. Now, you’re finally starting to make some real progress and people notice.
STAGE 5: I Simply Go Because of What I Know
At this point you are pretty effective as a leader and you’re able to accomplish a lot. You’re ability to influence others is significant and people want to follow you. The only real way to get here is to endure and obey the law of process and embrace each stage of leadership development as it comes. To get here, whether a natural or learned leader, you must be intentional and dedicated.