According to historians, the Tartar Tribes of Central Asia would often pronounce a curse over their enemies. This curse wasn’t about achieving a single military victory. It was far more inclusive and devastating. The curse went something like this, “May you stay in one place forever.” The implication was that their enemies would not expand their borders, grow in strength or improve themselves. It meant that they would become insignificant, unsuccessful and powerless. It was a pronouncement that they hoped would lead to the ultimate failure of their enemies.
You don’t have to become an enemy of the ancient Tartars to achieve the same lackluster results. Just neglect your own personal and leadership growth. As a leader, your goal should be to expand your capabilities, become more effective and productive.
Some say that good leadership skills are achieved through experience. But, this isn’t true. Experience alone isn’t a good teacher. It’s only beneficial when your experiences are analyzed and truths are extracted. Only then can wiser choices be made going forward. The length of time in a leadership position does not guarantee your maturity as a leader. You can grow older and not grow wiser.
How Then Do You Grow?
We are all different and God uses many ways to teach us valuable lessons on life and leadership. There’s no single answer that fits everyone. But, there are four ways to avoid “staying in one place forever” as a leader.
Be Honest With Yourself
If you are going to grow, be honest about where you are now. Do a life audit. Everything is connected in your life. It’s impossible to compartmentalize one part from another for long. Be truthful when examining your lifestyle and priorities. Take note of your physical and emotional health. Be upfront with yourself about the quality of your relationships with your family. How are your nonprofit relationships? What about the other people in your life? Give yourself permission to speak frankly to yourself about your priorities, motives, and goals. Be courageous enough to be brutal. Take good notes. Begin immediate repairs where they are needed.
Be Intentional About Growth
Having been a leader in businesses and nonprofits I know that growth isn’t an accident. Growth must be intentional. You must purposely set out to grow. Deliberately seek out new ways, means and people that will inspire you to grow. Allow them to challenge you, to encourage you to move forward and push outward. Set aside time to think deeply about how to become what God desires of a leader. Write out your thoughts. Read and listen to other leaders. Observe the leadership styles and techniques of others. Yes, even those with whom you disagree. You can learn something from everyone. Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers
Invest In Your Leadership
Make room on your calendar and in your budget for the sole purpose of growing yourself as a leader. Neglecting your own growth affects you, your family and the entire nonprofit organization. The saying that, “Everything rises and falls on leadership” is hard to hear but often true. Make an investment in leadership books, audios, videos, and conferences. Develop a leadership style that fits your personality type. Study the great leaders of the present. Learn all you can from leaders of the past. Make notes and work toward honing your own skills. Develop a personal relationship with someone who you regard as a good leader. Ask lots of questions about how they handle various situations. Listen more than you talk. Allow your heart to be changed and shape you into the best leader you can be.
Be Actively Engaged
Put what you learn into action. Have a good work ethic about your own leadership development. Take your leadership off of autopilot and be deliberate. Avoid the tendency to only do what you’ve always done and no more. Get out of “maintenance mode” and be “hands on” in your leadership approach. Get out of your comfort zone. Take up the challenge to improve yourself as a leader. Ask the tough questions and listen well to the even tougher answers. Be excited about learning. Work toward expanding your leadership capabilities and you’ll inspire others to follow. Don’t fall under the curse of the Tartars, refuse to “stay in one place forever” as a leader.