Have you ever asked yourself this question: “What is the next step in my leadership journey?” It is a good question. Leadership is like climbing a mountain that has no peak or a ladder that has no top rung. Real leaders are generally hungry for the next challenge. They take a tough opportunity, give it their best, then start looking for the next giant to go after. Often, “taking your leadership to the next level” means, in our mind, looking for a new job or significant promotion. But what if the next big battle of your leadership career is to stay put for a bit longer? What if you should really stay put?
There are some projects that leaders need to take on which don’t involve finding a new job at all. In fact, they can only be really dealt with by remaining in your current role. These are, what I would call, the “internal” projects. I’m referring to those personal growth and self-improvement challenges that can sometimes be avoided by transitioning to something altogether different. If we are honest, we sometimes default to looking for a “new job” in order to avoid the more difficult task of creating a “new me.”
Leadership Means Growing
Leadership is a growth journey. There is always some stretching going on. When I was in high school I went through a pretty significant growth spurt which, in combination with my commitment to basketball, caused excruciating pain in my shins where the bone grew faster than the tendon. In a similar way, personal and inner-growth can be a painful process. For leaders, there a numerous areas that we can work on, without ever leaving our present job, that would help us to grow. In fact, sometimes staying put is the ONLY WAY that we will develop those areas. You simply cannot overestimate the importance of self-development as a leader.
For example, how about having a 360 evaluation done on yourself in your current role? You are surrounded by people who have gotten to know you. They have seen you at your best, and maybe even seen you at your worst. They know things about you that you don’t fully appreciate. It is the people who know you that will give you the best feedback on areas you need to develop. Stay put! Ask for a 360 evaluation. Then go to work on those areas identified by your colleagues as opportunities for improvement. Remember the words of Ken Blanchard, “feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
Grow where you are! Bloom where you are planted! How about fixing some things that you have frankly been doing wrong. It is always easier to just pursue a promotion or find a new job and leave your mistakes for the next person to fix. But how about fixing them yourself? That will require some humility, vulnerability, and maybe even forgiveness. But that is the arena in which real leaders grow. As Brené Brown put it well “Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, it is the most accurate measure of courage.”
Leadership growth does not always mean leaving your current job. In fact, there are some types of growth that you will never experience unless you stick it out a bit longer where you are. Stay put. Give it a bit longer. Is your team in a good place? Great. Now work on you. Take the opportunity, right where you are, to make yourself a better leader, a better version of yourself.
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Last modified: August 11, 2023