Becoming a leader is a trip for life. Your development as a leader never stops.

It goes on and on.

What does stop is:

Certain mistakes. Early in your career you’ve made mistakes and you’re sure not to repeat those. This doesn’t mean that you won’t make mistakes as a senior leader. Nope. You’ll make mistakes but you recover sooner – get back on track faster – or you make different mistakes. Making mistakes won’t stop. I’ve never heard of anybody running out of mistakes to make.

– Some of your fears. Hey, after 10 crucial conversations you might still not like them but the frenzy nervousness of the first ones is gone.

– Questioning yourself. Your self-esteem grows as your leadership develops. And that’s good because that’s what your current role requires.

So, why is it a lifelong journey?

Leadership development is like peeling an onion. Through your career as a leader you peel one layer after another. It is endless.

You will hit a limit in your growth. You can only grow so far and then …. BANG you hit a limit. Suddenly it seems like you hit a ceiling and your growth stops. The problem is that you’re not always aware of that limit because your ego gives you all kinds of well thought out excuses. But you’re definitely banging your head against a ceiling once in a while. That’s one of the reasons why my clients like to work with me. I can let them become aware when they reached that limit and help them to break through it.

But you’re not the only one on a journey in your organization. Your employees are as well. And they have that same upper limit

When an employee hits that upper limit and their growth stops some leaders start making mistakes. They seem to think that by being impatient and sometimes even angry they can force people to grow. Becoming impatient or angry is not only disrespectful but it also doesn’t work. What will be created is a culture of fear. As a leader, you can’t force people to change, even if it’s growth in your eyes. You need to be patient.

It reminds of the poem of Gregg Hobbs – Supreme Court justice and author of the foreword of my book, Leading through Change –:

Patience is a sharp pebble
Best carried
In the back pocket
To remind you
When you sit on it
To feel uncomfortable

Before you get discouraged and think that you can’t do anything except for being patient, let me reassure you. There are things that you can do.

Let me share a few with you:

1 – You can create an organization in which learning and growth are embedded in the culture.

The problem is that this sounds good but is often implemented in a way that leads to confused and fearful employees. Employers punish employees for their mishaps. The focus is more on their weaknesses. Also, the learning part is often limited to attending trainings or conferences.

2 – Keep on growing yourself as a leader

Be brave. Get a coach or mentor who challenges you. And grow.

3 – Be compassionate

Don’t forget the small and maybe not so small miscommunications and mistakes that you made yourself in your career. It’s most likely that you can’t remember all of them. That only means that you’ve forgotten them, not that you didn’t make them.

And if you’re ready for some leadership acceleration next year, hit reply. I’ve just decided to open up my calendar for two new coaching clients. Grab your spot before they are gone. Just hit reply.