Elevating Your Leadership Game

post from Timothy J. Tobin:

Congratulations! You’re a
leader. If you’re reading this, you have either already heard this phrase or
you aspire to hear it. Leadership is complex and demands are high. How do you
continue to elevate your leadership game? What can you do to become a great

Great leaders set a compelling
vision. They develop, inspire, and motivate people. They actively listen and
provide regular feedback. They recognize and reward talent. They work across
organizational boundaries, handle conflict, make decisions, and they deliver
results. Great leaders have a learning mindset. They continuously develop
themselves and others.

The best leaders make all of
this look effortless, but the great ones I’ve worked with are committed to
getting better.

Much like physical fitness, you
cannot neglect your leadership fitness and expect optimal results. The
development choices you make will have a profound impact on your performance
and it will also impact those you lead. It is easy to become consumed with all
the demands that come with being a leader. After all, you have got a job to do
and results to deliver.

Then again, isn’t one of your
imperatives to be the best leader you can be? Somehow, that gets lost for some
leaders and they wind up focusing on the never-ending tasks and initiatives
that are immediately in front of them. Those projects certainly cannot be

What winds up getting
neglected is a focus on development. Ongoing development – the learning, commitment,
resilience, and effort – is often what separates great leaders from everyone
else. However, when it comes to leadership development, the two greatest
challenges facing leaders today are 1) finding the time to focus on their
development and 2) determining where to start.

Today’s leaders simply have
too many competing priorities. Making matters more challenging: as we move up
the leadership ladder, demands increase and discretionary time decreases.
Adding to this is the fact that there is an overcrowded leadership development
landscape. The result is that too many leaders don’t pursue any leadership
development activities or, worse, they pursue the wrong ones. The ‘wrong
activities’ are those that are costly, time consuming or do not yield desired
results. As a result of these challenges, it has become increasingly easy –
perhaps even necessary – to drop leadership development from our growing list
of priorities.

How can you navigate these
inherent barriers toward becoming a great leader?

First, seek accurate feedback.
You must know your strengths and development areas to ensure you are using your
limited time most effectively. This occurs through a variety of types of
assessments, and I recommend a good leadership 360 assessment. When done well,
this will provide insights into how you are showing up as a leader. This allows
you to be very precise in what aspects of leadership you want to improve. Have
a plan that clearly spells out what activities you will pursue toward your
development and how you will know you are successful.

When it comes to activities,
here is your opportunity to shine – to elevate your game by building good,
sustainable habits. Make sure the activities you choose are directly tied to
improving the specific areas you outlined in your plan. You should do something
to develop your leadership skills at least weekly. Time is of the essence, so
it is imperative you remain laser focused on those activities that will help
you improve. Lofty, one-time activities may be fine, but by themselves are
limited in the impact they can have on your development.

For peak performance, you need
repetition. I recommend a steady and balanced diet across numerous types of
activities that are incorporated into your regular routine. Make sure you are
contributing to a strong foundation of leadership by reading relevant business books
and articles and listening to podcasts. Maintain your flexibility by actively
engaging in a variety of on the job activities – shadowing, stretch
assignments, task forces, teaching, and other such activities.

Remember that this is not
about checking the box that you completed an activity. It is about applying
what you learned, reflecting on the key insights, and refining your point of
view and approach. Take this approach: learn, practice, get feedback, reflect,

So yes, you are a leader (or
soon will be). Keep in mind that wanting to be a great leader is not the same
as being a great one. Greatness requires effort and continuous improvement.
Leadership development does not need to be costly or time consuming. There are
opportunities for development all around us. We just need to know where to look
and how to incorporate them into our routine.
Timothy J. Tobin is author of Peak
Leadership Fitness:  Elevating Your
Leadership Game
and a learning and leadership development professional
committed to helping individuals and organizations reach their greatest
potential. He is currently vice president, franchisee onboarding and learning
at Choice Hotels International, where he oversees the hotel opening processes
and learning strategy and programs for all franchisees.
He was previously vice president of global
leadership development at Marriott, and held leadership roles at Baker Tilly
(formerly Beers + Cutler) and Booz Allen Hamilton, where he designed and
implemented a variety of talent management solutions.
A frequent leadership speaker, he has served as
an adjunct professor for more than 20 years at the University of Maryland,
Catholic University, Trinity University, and George Washington University.
more information, please visit https://www.td.org/books/peak-leadership-fitness.