How the Best Leaders Invest In Themselves

The best are not born into greatness they work hard to become great. It’s true of at every level: successful CEOs, executives, directors, managers and supervisors.

And smart leaders understand that they are never done learning, because learning is a lifelong process. They treat learning as an investment in themselves. Here are some of the forms that investment takes:

They’re open to feedback. The best way to invest in yourself as a leader is to be open to feedback. It’s a crucial skill for anyone in a collaborative work environment, and especially for leaders. Engaging with people directly and showing that you truly hear what they are saying is one of the best ways to build strong bonds and make yourself accessible as a leader.

They’re always reading. In my experience, I have found that most great leaders are avid readers—for example, Bill Gates goes away on short retreats with 20 or so books. Whether you’re learning a technical skill, seeking personal development or learning more about someone you admire, reading is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to invest in yourself.

They learn from their mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, including leaders. But smart leaders make a point of learning from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. They’re constantly examining their actions and responses to find ways they can improve.

They grow their network. Leaders are not loners who stay away from other people. On the contrary, they’re always looking for ways to grow their professional network and maintain relations with their colleagues and peers. A strong network can help you stay ahead of industry trends and foster productive collaboration.

They how to ask questions. Even if they’re very knowledgeable within their field, most leaders work as generalists. The best leaders understand that people who work with the details every day will have deeper knowledge, and they know that asking questions is a sign of respect and strength, not weakness.

They make time for reflection. No one can function properly without taking some time to stop and think things through. The best leaders make time for reflection, taking pause throughout the day and refocus. It may sometimes feel like a waste of time, but those who practice it regularly find it’s the source of their deepest insights.

They have a coach. Great leaders understand that self-development doesn’t happen in isolation and that investing in themselves requires the support and expertise of others. A compatible coach can help you maximize opportunities and minimize obstacles.

The pace of life is fast, and when it’s already difficult to keep up with the demands of the day it may be hard to imagine carving out even more time for yourself.

But like wise investors, great leaders realize that a good long-term return requires regular investments, even small ones, in the present. And they’re not afraid to spend their time and money on the best practices to help their investment develop and grow.

Lead from within: The strongest investment you can make is an investment in yourself, that is how you get great leadership.

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