What you most likely know, but just in case, is that I am a self-proclaimed group exercise junkie! I mean, I only do group exercise – unless I’m in a situation traveling where I’ve got to work out alone. But even then, I’m looking for classes. I have primarily been focused for two decades on cardio, and I still do my cardio three or four days a week, and I love it. But in recent years, I’ve gone back to integrating strength training; working on muscle building, and I consistently do that every week, three days a week.
And it feels so good! It’s also promoting healthier bones and longevity, I love it. And it got me thinking about the other kind of muscle, outside of the major muscles in our body, the other muscle that I continue to work on and I invite you to join me working on – which is your leadership muscle. I thought it would be fun today to talk about three exercises that you could be doing to build your leadership muscle. Number one is you should be reading or listening on a consistent basis, one to five days a week, to some kind of content that is centered around promoting leadership skills. That could be something in communication, in emotional intelligence, employee development, whatever it is. But you’ve got to be digesting that on a consistent basis, even if it’s small chunks.
For example, when I was in my corporate position I subscribed to a weekly leadership newsletter, and then I would follow one or two leaders online. Within the skill sets I knew I wanted to continue to work on, emotional intelligence being a big one. Really simple, just one day a week I would make sure that I was reading a quick article or listening to a podcast or an audiobook. Something really simple but done consistently, week over week. Then the second exercise you should be doing is to up that game and at least once per year, you should be investing in formal training.
The reading and listening on a weekly basis is very much receiving the information. When you invest in training, where you’re attending something live, whether it’s virtual or in person, there is a workshop collaboration and reflection component that takes your training to a whole nother level than just passively digesting information on a weekly basis. So it’s funny, I text my husband Matt, because he is in real estate and he has to go through formal training every four years in total, but it’s roughly 10 hours a year of training in order to maintain his real estate license. Why don’t leaders do the same thing?!
You are working with people, so you should be treating your leadership title and responsibilities as if it is a license; a certificate that you’ve got to renew year after year. So you need to be investing in training. You can either do that investment out of your own pocket, or I highly suggest going to your organization to ask for those funds. And organizations, you should be supplying that training. A digital library is one step, but you should be promoting live training at least once per year for your leaders – for retention of not only that leader, but your employees and for their development.
The third thing that I would offer to exercise your leadership muscle is to remain curious. Just simply remain curious everywhere you go, whether that’s remaining curious about new leadership strategies, techniques, skills, or remaining curious in your conversations with your direct reports instead of always giving advice, listen to what they’re saying. Remaining curious when you’re speaking with your peers or upper management, coming in with less about always needing to prove your knowledge and what you know and more about what could you learn in this conversation and this situation.
We were just training on this recently with a group of executive women during our Five Star Leadership Workshop. And the value of remaining curious is so high that it will not only affect the leader and the employee, but it will also change the organization. So those are your three exercises that I encourage you to do to really strengthen those leadership muscles. What exercises are you doing today? Post those in the comments below!