It’s a long way to the top, so it’s tempting to sit and rest on your laurels when you get there. But the thing that worked once won’t always work. That’s because the contexts we lead in are always changing. Industries shift, markets change, new research and best practices emerge, and customer and employee expectations are always on the move.
Sticking to a tried and true approach might work in the short-term, but do it for too long and you’ll start to slide. Great leaders are the ones that humble themselves enough to know that there’s always more to know and that adapting to change is vital.
Here’s how to lead like a legend by unlearning, rethinking, and embracing change.
1 Question Your Intuition
Gut instinct is great for early-stage businesses or passion projects. It can give you that sense of confidence and clarity you need to push forward. But as your organization becomes bigger and more complex, you’ll need more than just intuition to justify your actions. Ask yourself why you feel so strongly a certain path is the right one. Interrogate your beliefs and ideas. And look to research and data to back up (or contradict) what your gut is telling you.
2 Get Outside Perspectives
You can be a brilliant person with unrivaled knowledge in your field, but you’re still only one person. That means your experience, ideas, and understanding of processes or people is limited by your own worldview. Build a trusted network of friends or colleagues who can add both breadth and depth to your thinking. Don’t just tap the knowledge of other leaders. Look to smart people across a variety of job roles, backgrounds, and areas of expertise.
3 Read Like a Fiend
The more you read, the more knowledge you have to work with. But avoid the trap of reading only the same handful of business and leadership books everyone else is. If you really want to think differently, read academic journals that are relevant to your field, deep-dive “long-read” articles, case studies, interviews, and even fiction. Everything that helps you learn more about your industry, the world, and what makes people tick will help make you a better leader.
4 Get Comfortable With Being Wrong
Ever heard of a scientist who gave up after learning their hypothesis was wrong? That doesn’t happen, because scientists use every failed experiment or unexpected result to adjust, rethink and course correct. If something doesn’t turn out the way you expect, or you’re proven wrong, use that information to inform your approaches and actions in the future. Being open to mistakes and feedback is vital to growing as a leader, and a person. No one will think less of you for looking at the data and deciding to change course.
5 Don’t Wait to Be Receptive to Change
You can get away with those blind spots and assumptions early on in your career. But the higher you climb, the bigger the ripple effect they create. Forging forward with those same unchallenged beliefs and ideas can impact the quality of your work as well as how receptive people are to your leadership efforts. The more stubborn you are about resisting change, the fewer people will come to you with ideas and questions – and the less they’ll want to ally with you.
At StellaPop we believe that leadership isn’t just a job role – it’s an ongoing process of continuous development. For help building leadership capacity within your organization so that you too can lead like a legend, give us a call!