Lately I’ve had three experiences that have led me to the same conclusion: it’s time to step up my game as a leader:

  1. We now have two teenage daughters in our home. Celebrating this rite of passage into the teen years makes me reflect on the priorities, messages, and approach I’m modeling as my daughters grow up.
  1. Watching the Olympics, several athletes came to Rio with unfinished business. They knew there was more medal winning passion and vision inside of them. They worked for years, extending or revitalizing their athletic career to earn the opportunity to compete again. What else is inside of me that I need to tap into and cultivate?
  1. I had a conversation with a leader who was spending extra time managing a direct report. This direct report went decades in a career without anyone challenging him to grow or consistently holding him accountable. I imagined all the leaders who side-stepped opportunities to develop this individual over the years and the resulting lost potential. This isn’t an unusual story, but I had to ask, “Am I side-stepping development conversations?”

I can’t coast my way to the legacy and impact I desire as a parent, leader, and voice of influence. It is clear to me that there are countless opportunities to challenge current and future leaders to take courageous and selfless action.

I hear people asking, “Where are the leaders?” I believe we’re asking the wrong question. The question should be, “What’s my part in resolving the leadership void?” The first question is a helpless, head-shaking surrender. The second invites personal ownership and action.

Those in my sphere of influence need me to grow as a leader and to consistently create growth opportunities for them. This is what my family needs from me. This is what my clients need from me. I’ve spent too much time with my head down, just trying to get the work done, reacting to the most urgent items on the list. I’ve waited too long to ask myself how my leadership needs to grow.

If you are leading an organization, perhaps your courageous next step is to create a stronger culture of leadership development.   One of the most important roles of a CEO (or President, or Executive Director, or Lead Pastor) is to create that culture. Too often, I find that top leaders don’t recognize or fully live into this responsibility.

I suspect I’m not the only one that needs to step up my game. I have a request and an offer for you. My request: Push me; call me out. If you think I’m coasting as a leader, say something to me about it. I need to hear it. My offer: next time we talk face to face, I’ll ask you how you are doing as a leader and what you’re doing to take your organization to the next level by creating a culture of leadership development. I’d love to hear your answer.

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  1. Creating a culture is perhaps the most difficult task of all for leaders. Culture is what happens when people are organized together. It’s established immediately and responds to events, but it’s incredibly hard to change on purpose.

    That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though! Keep writing and sharing, Christin!

    • Christin (Author)

      Robby,
      I agree that quick culture changes are difficult. But I believe an essential element of leadership is to shape culture over time and have seen numerous positive and negative examples. People are hungry to be part of something healthy, meaningful and purposeful. When leaders can lead toward those goals and reinforce them over time, the culture of the organization will shift.

      I appreciate your thoughts and input.

  2. Great post, Christin. Yes, leadership culture starts at the top and requires constant attention from the top to permeate an organization. However, as you wisely pointed out, its absence is not an excuse for anyone else to disregard their personal sphere. I’ve seen many people (non CEO’s) stand out in their organization and thrive in leadership development. More importantly, even if you are not the CEO at work, you are at home which has a lot more to do with your leadership and your legacy than your day job.

    • Christin (Author)

      David,
      I agree! We all lead and have influence in some sphere. I often find that I need to give extra focus to my influence at home. It’s so essential and so easy to let it slip. I appreciate your leadership example.

  3. Good word, Christin and great reminder to step into the difficult conversations out of care and concern for people. Good encouragement for me today to have a development conversation I know I need to have. Thanks!