The Leadership Blog

Do You have the Tools You Need to Grow?

leadership leadership lessons personal growth professional growth skillsets Nov 05, 2023

I just got back from an afternoon of early holiday shopping with a dear friend.  It was a great afternoon of catching up and planning for the holiday season.  I needed a few things to get ready ….scotch-tape, wrapping paper, some hooks to hang holiday ornaments and a few new adorable on trend gnome decorations. Next, I need to dust off the ladder and break out the Christmas lights.  I’m ready with all the tools I need to decorate for the holidays, my absolute favorite time of year.

My question for YOU today is… do you have the tools you need for your professional growth? Having the right tools is critical for any home improvement or self-improvement job.  Growth doesn’t happen by accident.  We need to be intentional about it.  I think I know the first thought that came to your mind.  I’m just too busy.  We should never be too busy to prioritize our growth. As leaders we can’t share with our teams what we don’t have.  I’m constantly learning so I can help my team.

I’ve got five tools you need to put in your personal growth toolbox recommended by my friend and mentor New York Times bestselling author John Maxwell. He’s written more leadership books than anyone on the planet.  He’s spent his entire life pursuing personal growth.  I read my first book of his in 1999.  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership unlocked a thirst for growth in me at 31 years old and I haven’t stopped my pursuit of improving my leadership skills since then.  His writing spoke to my soul and the best part was when I implemented what he taught, it actually worked.  

Here are five things he recommends you include in your personal growth toolbox.

  1. Good Books: Your first mentors are always authors of the books you read. It certainly was for me.  I’ll suggest one by John, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and one by Patrick Lencioni, “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive to start your reading list if you need a little help.
  2. Good Listens: Events, podcasts, and digital streaming platforms have made accessing leaders' teachings more convenient.  There’s a Maxwell Podcast that I listen to weekly, plus I try not to miss my friend Dave Gambrill’s Unleash Your Awesome Podcast.  He specializes in digital marketing.
  3. Good Thinking: Intentional daily thinking about priorities, projects, and reflection is a powerful tool. It goes beyond effort alone and allows for more profound insights and clarity.  This takes discipline and time.  As leaders we sometimes move too fast for our own good and say things like, “I don’t have time to….” fill in your own blank but we need to make the time.  Maxwell’s book How Successful People Think made a huge difference in my life. I didn’t know there were 11 thinking styles.  Once I learned about them, I started intentionally putting all of them into practice.  It made a huge impact on my leadership.
  4. Good Conversations: Engaging in conversations with others significantly enhances our thinking and perspective. Collaboration and dialogue are invaluable for personal growth.  I’m a member of a lot of different leadership groups.  One of my favorite public media groups is the Major Market Group.  Leaders from the largest cities get together regularly to discuss challenges and opportunities.  This group of leaders has helped sharpen my leadership skills and I’m so grateful for their willingness to share and collaborate.  One is too small a number for greatness.  We all need a tribe to be a part of and growing together is just more fun.
  5. Good Questions: The simple yet mighty tool of asking questions can unlock mysteries, elevate ideas, and drive innovation. One of the most potent questions a leader can ask is "Why?" yet it often remains underused.  As a journalist I love asking questions, but you don’t have to be a reporter to master this skill.  You just need to be curious, focused on continuous improvement and brave enough to admit that you don’t know it all.

Just like you can’t put up your holiday decorations without the right tools, personal growth also requires the right set of resources.  Maintaining a growth mindset is critical to our leadership success.  We never arrive.  We just keep learning and growing for a lifetime, and I really enjoy sharing what I’m learning with YOU.