More than twenty years ago, I started a solo law practice with a $250.00 retainer. That is not the recommended approach. I had no idea what I was doing, but in a little over two years, the firm grew from one individual to over a million dollars in annual revenue and about 15 employees.
That’s when I became serious about growing as a leader. Specifically, I wanted to grow the firm to the next level, but I realized that something was needed other than instinct. Not sure where to start, I began reading books about leadership and how to develop effective organizations. One of the first things I learned was that in order to grow a business, I had to grow leaders. Organizations grow and prosper in direct correlation with the number and caliber of available leaders. A failure to groom leaders is often a reason for long-term business failure. Thriving companies need leaders at every level and several in the pipeline. So where do you begin with leadership development? The answer is: with you – the one your team is supposed to follow.
Would you follow you?
True leaders are keen on developing others but aren’t always aware of their own shortcomings. Thus, a leader’s first task is self-development. Here are three ways to get started:
Invest in Leadership Training Once I caught the leadership vision, I went on leadership seminars from experts like John Maxwell, Brian Tracy, and Les Brown – anyone that could teach me how to be a better leader. I invested in a business growth consultant and even engaged a local university team to come to my office and teach my staff about leadership. Set a Goal to Read at Least One Book Per Month I bought and read leadership books by the truckload: Ken Blanchard; Stephen Covey; Jim Collins; Zig Ziglar, Patrick Lencioni, Laurie Beth Jones. These books challenged and changed my thinking. Their counsel saw me through many gut-wrenching decisions. Get a Mentor What’s the easiest way to do or become anything that you want? Follow someone who’s already done it. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel of how to grow myself as a leader and how to grow my business. There were tons of people who had already done it. I just had to find some and emulate them. I went on a search for a mentor. I selected a few of the most successful business people I knew and I asked them to formally mentor me. I was pleasantly surprised that my prospects agreed. In the end, my firm merged with one of my mentors. I would say that by far, my greatest teacher has been experience, but I’m glad that I didn’t overlook personal leadership development, and neither should you. Get some training, get a reading list, and get a mentor. To lead others, you’ve got to first lead yourself. I would love your thoughts and feedback.