How do you grow as a leader?

I recently emailed a few leaders that I respect and have learned from over the years.

Below is their feedback based on the question: What do you do to continue to grow as a leader?

Michelle Logan-Owens
McLeod Regional Medical Center

We have a book club with leaders from various departments and we study articles together, eat some Chick-fil-A and discuss. This has been helpful. I also like taking my team to Global Leadership Summit each year.

I think one of the most important things you can do is give the team goals and track them. Then celebrate!!

When asked to speak, when I have time I try to say yes. Teaching something forces me to learn something new or grow knowledge I already had. Just recently, I am talked to physicians about equity diversity and inclusion-cultural competence. I had to really dig into the research in order to pull it together so that helped me grow.

You should try to develop your team’s entrepreneurial spirit, by sharing business articles and financial planning. This way you show you care about their goals and personal success and not just the company’s success.

I don’t really do anything specific day-to-day, but what I do try to do is listen to my folks and follow up, it builds connection and trust and then if they have a particular interest, I try to find work or projects that stimulate their interest.

Dale Forehand
Speaker & Author
Stained Glass Ministries (Birmingham, Alabama)

I try to read books on areas where I need to grow. At least 15 minutes a day with 5 minutes for worship, 5 minutes of prayer and 5 minutes in God’s Word.

Leadership is born out of training … so training must be intentional by putting yourself in a position today to be able to do tomorrow what you cannot do today by direct effort.

Bekah Howard
Director of Guest Experience
High Pastures Retreat Center (Burnsville, NC)

What a great question!

My initial answer: I continue to listen to my employees which is harder than it sounds.

A leader can get tunnel vision about where they are headed and forget they can’t do it without a happy staff. I have a high standard so I have to fight to maintain my approachability.

My leadership style can come off as domineering or cold so I have to balance it with warmth and grace. How do I combat this? Through casual conversations and showing them I care about them as people. When I get a request from an employee, I listen to my instincts and then check with cohorts that have similar jobs to make sure I am being reasonable.

I love podcasts on my personality type.

I also have a goal of learning a new assessment/tool each year.

I am constantly learning more about myself so that I can understand how it interfaces with those that we lead. If you can speak the language of your staff’s personality, it helps the organization run smoother. In my experience, employees don’t give the same effort to their leaders. It’s very humbling to work hard to reach someone so that you get the best out of them.

Hope this helps. This past year of being a boss over so many people older than me as been more challenging than ever.

Shawn Hagerty
Crosswell Drive Elementary

Sit in a quiet space, close your eyes and speak to yourself internally as if you were a leader. Internal positive talk.

Nate Brock
Minister & Teacher
Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church
Bates Middle School

  • Read good books on leadership, like the John Maxwell
  • Listen to leadership podcasts
  • Read a lot of leadership material by Dan Reiland
  • Watch TEDTalks on Leadership
  • Work through books and studies with other leaders
  • Attend leadership conferences

Mark Partin
Organizational Improvement Director
City of Sumter

I make time daily to learn something new. It can be by reading in a book, an article, listening to a podcast, or watching a video, but I do it daily.

For me I have a few things that if I do daily, I keep my core strong. I don’t always succeed, but when I do these things I am at my best.

  • Things I do to keep my core strong:
  • A quiet time – prayer, Bible study
  • Read/learn something new
  • Exercise of some type
  • Show appreciation to someone (i.e. a handwritten note or an act of kindness)
  • Some time of silence – total silence for solitude

These are specific to my personality. Each person needs to figure out what their needs are and practice them to keep their core strong. If their core is not strong, their leadership will be weak.

Jerry Allred
Executive Director
John K. Crosswell Home for Children

PRAY!!! My practice for the past couple of years is rising early, daily devotion and Bible study and really trying to take care of myself so that I can take better care of and lead those around me.

I also network with other executives and leaders to bounce ideas off of each other and get feedback from one another.

Bill Langford
Gum Branch Church (Hartsville, SC)

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Read the Proverb each day.
  • Think of others more highly than yourself.

Chris Reardon
Creative Director
Christ Community Church

Specifically for leadership, I think my main goal is to identify leaders that have successful organizations. That doesn’t specifically mean, financially, or lots of stores, but people I like, or I find really cool. I then just keep tabs of them, by following them on social media, visiting their websites, possibly reading their books, watching interviews of them on Youtube. But find people that inspire you, and then dig a little into why they do what they do, and how are they doing it.

I also listen to podcasts regularly. One that I would recommend that is more “overall business” but has great leadership advice in it, is Donald Miller’s “Business Made Simple” podcast. Catalyst has a good leadership podcast that I check out occasionally as well. Bob Goff has a great podcast called “Dream Big”, which is inspiring as well (though not leadership specific).

Last, as a church staff member, we find it’s important to do regular evaluations. We review our year, talk through how we’re doing, seek how we can help each other and are challenged to grow in our leadership as well. No matter where you are in leadership, you need someone outside your “bubble” that can give you feedback and help challenge you to continue growing.

Jessie Fox
Signs of Love (Honduras)
Digital business card

While living overseas (as a missionary and servant) the biggest thing to do was books and the rare opportunity for online trainings (I’m extremely grateful for people doing more online stuff now!).

Other random thoughts…

Getting time with Jesus to let Him speak to me.

I had gotten in a habit of when I had Bible reading or prayer time it was always for preparing to teach others. I wasn’t regularly listening to what he wanted to speak to me. I am grateful to have shifted that habit recently and find I am a better leader and teacher when I not only study to teach but also for my own heart.

Learning about other people’s personalities, love language and gifting has also been beneficial so I can change how I communicate, delegate, listen and serve based on the different people on my team.

I’ve also enjoyed The Bible Project podcasts. They have been huge in my spiritual growth this year. They teach the Bible in a way I have never been taught before and I learn so much every time and feel more equipped to share with others as well!