No matter how full the river is, it still wants to grow – Congolese proverb
John Maxwell, in his book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, talks about the law of the lid. He says that leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the individual’s ability to lead, the higher the lid on his potential. Maxwell continues to say that personal success without leadership ability brings only limited effectiveness. It is easier to make it to the top but much more difficult to maintain that top position. It is not uncommon to hear the question, ‘What happened? We thought this was the leader who would change things around’.
Leadership is a journey with many twists and turns, mountains, valleys, and plains that a leader must navigate. The best leaders are learners who recognise that they will never graduate from learning. They realise that no matter how much they know, the more they know, the more they realise they do not know and seek to know more. Why, because they want to grow.
Learning lifts one’s leadership ability and enables a leader to be more effective. As the leader’s ability increases, their personal and organisational ability increases too. However, this means that a leader must have the insatiable desire to grow irrespective of how successful they are. Growing your leadership ability has no limit and neither is there a law against it, hence just like a full river, effective leaders always desire to grow.
Learning comes in different ways and a smart leader looks out for opportunities for learning. Here are some ways to consider as part of your reflection:
- Reading: Aim to read a new book regularly and ask yourself what you have learnt and can apply to your personal life and organisation.
- Listening: Be an active listener (have meaningful conversations with peers, subordinates, and superiors), listen to podcasts, audiobooks, etc.
- Explore and exchange ideas: learn to network and explore possibilities with others. This can be in open forums, conferences or everyday conversations.
- Try something new: Seek to know something unrelated to your technical area of expertise, like learning a musical instrument, or taking a cooking class, you’ll be surprised the skills you will pick up as a result.
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