How investing in your own leadership skills can boost your business growth

Great leaders come in many shapes and forms, but one trait they all seem to share is their ability to motivate and inspire others. Although it should go without saying, motivation and inspiration in the ranks offers organizations a very useful by-product: the increased potential for business growth.

When employees are inspired and engaged in a company’s mission, they are more than willing to take action and find creative ways to achieve their goals. However, the 2021 Global Leadership Prediction found that only 11% of HR leaders say they have the leadership talent they need to grow their business, an all-time high. Many believe the reason has a lot to do with the unpredictability of the challenges a business might face.

While organizations may still be grooming the next wave of leaders to take over from previous generations, there are things you can do to take control of your own leadership development in the meantime. Even if you are currently in a leadership position, you should explore opportunities to further develop your skills to encourage business growth.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Surround yourself with fellow leaders to help you solve problems.

Making learning a priority can definitely help you grow as a leader. Leadership training is generally a solid investment. If dedicated training isn’t for you, then even just 15-30 minutes a day spent reading a book, reading an article, or listening to a leadership podcast can deepen your knowledge of different processes and procedures. Sometimes you will need an outside perspective to accelerate your development.

“Business leaders can sometimes be narrow-minded. Working in a company or industry for many years can lead to outdated industry standards,” says Greg Alexander, founder of Collectif 54, the first brain community for professional services companies. “By working with peers in a brain community, business leaders are exposed to different ways of thinking and innovative solutions. After all, peers are not vendors or sponsors looking to monetize a relationship. They rather seek to learn from one another in a safe environment.

Leaders need other leaders to challenge their assumptions and push the boundaries of what they can expect of themselves. It’s about finding the right circle of influence to really understand what you’re capable of.

“That’s why joining bands like YPO, Vistage, EO or Collective 54 has become so popular,” says Alexander. “Learning from people in similar businesses and roles, with common problems and opportunities, provides unique value to business leaders.”

2. Improve feedback reception.

It’s no secret that feedback can be invaluable because it provides you with a unique opportunity to learn and increase your self-awareness. Whether on the giving side or on the receiving side, however, this is not always a comfortable scenario. The mere thought of reviews can make even the most seasoned pros feel a little anxious. Both parties are in a vulnerable position.

Getting feedback better requires more than just asking someone, “How am I doing?” Such an open question leaves too much room for interpretation. Even if you’ve worked with a mentor or participated in a mastermind community, you might hear nothing more than broad strokes about your performance in response. You need to be more explicit and specific in your request for feedback.

It’s also important to state that you want to hear honest feedback, and then state the reason for your request. Maybe you want to know more about how effective you were at holding a meeting or if your approach to a challenge made the most sense.

It all comes down to the art of listening. If you feel defensive, take a step back and ask yourself why. Remember that you control your response. This is intended to be constructive and cordial. After hearing the feedback, focus on what you can improve. What was said that you can put into action?

3. Set time for reflection and strategy.

Reflection is often seen as looking back at where you have been. While part of the practice, it also involves taking stock of where you are now and where you want to be in the future – and is an essential part of leadership growth. Without thinking, you would be paralyzed trying to set benchmarks for yourself and your team. Nor would you have the means to truly evaluate your performance or that of your employees.

Thinking does not happen on its own. You have to make time for it. You also need to create a process for such an act. If you need to put pen to paper, do it. If you need a quiet place, find one. Once you’re ready, start asking yourself questions: “What have I learned so far? Did I achieve my learning objectives? Did I use what I learned? What do I want to learn next? How do I want to learn it?

One thing to keep in mind during moments of reflection is to never compare yourself to others. Only then can you truly develop a realistic plan or strategy for future leadership growth. Use all those questions you asked yourself to develop new goals, then figure out the best way to achieve what you want to achieve. Go into detail by detailing all aspects of your strategy (i.e. learning opportunities, next steps, potential obstacles, timeline, etc.). From there, it’s about putting the plan into action by dedicating time to accomplishing each goal.

Being in a leadership role, you probably know that the best form of training and development is one that is personalized for the individual. It stands to reason that you should tailor your personal leadership training through self-reflection and constructive criticism from your peers in similar positions, really focusing on your abilities and experiences. It’s just a matter of setting aside time not only to learn, but also to find opportunities to improve your skills.