I recently heard a CEO being asked by a younger leader what he should be doing to develop his leadership. The CEO’s response interested me, so I’m passing it along.
First, he said the young leader should read everything he can get his hands on about leadership. The CEO was adamant about reading everything, which I admit I found odd given the overwhelming volume of leadership material available, much of which I don’t find worth the time it takes to read.
Second, he said, do what you can to surround yourself with leaders who are better than you, or at least more experienced. Then ask those leaders lots of questions about what they are doing and the situations you are experiencing.
Third, go where leadership is taught by practitioners, i.e., other leaders (as opposed to those who only talk about leadership and have no real experience to draw from). Unfortunately, the CEO didn’t have suggestions for where that might be but instead spent a lot of time explaining why most practitioners don’t want to take the time to teach leadership.
Fourth, and most obvious, lead something. Get leadership experience, preferably in more than one arena. For example, if you’re leading at work, join a board where you can get a different experience. I found that bit of advice insightful.
Read, find more experienced leaders, find leaders teaching leadership, and lead. Not an exhaustive list but a good place to start.