Developing Leaders – Building Teams

The Need to Read to Grow as a Leader!

The Army taught me that there are three ways one learns to become a better leader: formal education, on-the-job training, and self-development.

Formal Education

One way to get educated is to attend a formal program – dedicated to teaching leadership. This “formal” method is the traditional bricks and mortar classroom, or something equivalent – but time dedicated away from the normal work schedule. This is a great way to learn, however most of us will never get many opportunities to pursue these programs. An additional challenge is, unfortunately, many professional curriculums do not include much – if any – leadership education. The fields of medicine, law, engineering, banking, religion, general business and so many more would all be better served with a more deliberate approach to teaching some of the art and science to leading – since all of these professions have as a core competency being able to effectively deal with people.

On-the-Job Training

On-the-job (or OJT) will be the primary method most of us learn to grow as leaders. The leadership of the organization is responsible for these professional development programs that take place here. OJT can be an effective method of learning if one has good coaches, teachers, and mentors or if there is an effective leader development program in place for the organization. The challenges here are two fold: 1) many people in the work force either do not possess the talents to teach or coach or lack the leadership skills themselves that are worth sharing. and 2) many organizations simply ignore the need for these programs.

Self-Development – On Your Own

The real potential game changer is what we do to develop ourselves, what we can learn on our own time. Because the responsibility to learn on our own time rests with ourselves – we only need to look into the mirror to see who is accountable. Regardless of how well the above two methods work, reading good leadership books written by experts, can fire the soul! They can inspire you by reinforcing some of your own leadership methods – giving you confidence that you are doing some great things already. They will also inspire you by exposing you to new ideas, new techniques, new methods on how to become more proficient in the leadership skills you should have in your tool kit. Of course, reading alone is insufficient – one must act on what is read before real learning takes place.

In future blogs, I will be sharing some golden nuggets I have learned from many of my favorite leadership books. Until then – remember that all those with whom you lead will never forget you!