Awaken the Growth Leader Within
Whatever your level of experience, you can unleash the growth leader within you. That may mean developing a productive relationship with change, reorienting your beliefs about learning, growth, and failure, or developing new ways to think and act as a leader. You can start today, from wherever you are.
Every manager can become a better growth leader through knowledge and experience. So if you’re thinking, “I don’t have what it takes to be a growth leader,” “I don’t know how to think entrepreneurially,” “I don’t have diverse experience,” or “I have a limited toolkit of skills,” don’t worry. Wherever you are starting from, you can develop or strengthen your growth leadership muscle. You just need to train it. Here’s how:
Embrace a Growth Mindset
Business growth results from a set of behaviors – people need to take certain actions in order to achieve it. The choices made in a business reflect the mindsets that exist within the organization. Every day, in companies across the world, people are making choices about how to conduct business. These choices either promote growth or they prevent it.
The first step is awareness. Continuously ask yourself: “Am I thinking in a way that will enable growth or prevent it?” “How should I be thinking to allow me to effectively lead this growth initiative?” When you consciously ask these questions, you become aware of how your past patterns are helping or hurting your efforts. This self-exploration allows you to more consistently operate with a growth mindset.
If you want a growth mindset, then you must have the courage to try new things, experiment, question your assumptions, challenge yourself to think and act in new ways, embrace mistakes and failures, be willing to change, collaborate and gain diverse perspectives, and learn not to place too much emphasis on outcomes. You simply must become comfortable with discomfort.
The enemies of growth are the status quo, groupthink, resistance to change, avoiding experimentation, perfection, fear of failure, penalizing mistakes, and inaction.
Growth leaders are characterized by a positive relationship with learning, growth, and change.
Expand Your Toolkit
Throughout their careers, growth leaders accumulate experiences, ideas, and actions they can draw on as they face new situations. This broad repertoire allows them to use their past to create the future. They don’t think outside the box; they have developed a bigger box.
Look in the mirror and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Part of becoming a growth leader is engaging in serious and frequent self-assessments to evaluate how you’re doing.
List all of your past experiences, in particular, those that provided you with new skills and perspectives. Then assess the common threads and broad capabilities you’ve developed. And finally, look for what’s missing. Identify the functions and experiences that are needed to lead current and future growth initiatives.
The goal is to recognize the gap between where you are and where you need to be, and then determine what should change to close the gap. This will very likely mean that you will need to move away from your comfort zone.
Do you need experience in different functions or industries? Do you need to expand your network within and outside of your organization? Could you benefit from exposure to successful entrepreneurs or start-ups? Do you need to develop a greater understanding of the big picture and how the disparate parts of the business work together?
Whatever your development needs may be, you can expand your toolkit by making a commitment to learn new things. This will broaden your repertoire, giving you the capabilities to address new situations, take advantage of opportunities, and lead growth initiatives.
Let go of the idea that you have to be good at everything you do. That kind of thinking keeps you stuck with what you know or what’s familiar, and prevents you from learning and growing as a leader.
Every manager has the potential to be a growth leader. But it’s up to you to develop the growth mindset and a broad toolkit necessary for success.
Where are you in your journey to becoming a growth leader?