Learning to Lead

Travis Scott spent the better half of a decade doing what society taught – go to college, get a job, and work in that career for the rest of your life.  After realizing he wanted more, Travis changed careers and changed his life.  Now, he loves what he does, and at his website,www.MakingTheComeback.com.  He is an aspiring speaker, coach, and blogger.

Ready?

Set…

LEARN!

It’s no secret many people strive for success in their lives.  Whether you want to be a great parent, successful in your career, or an awesome spouse, there is one common denominator that will help you achieve that success: Leadership.


Unfortunately leadership is not something we  typically discuss in school.  I never had the option to take a “Leadership 101” course in high school, college, or my MBA program.  There was definitely no degree I could obtain in Leadership when I went to school.

So if schools typically don’t teach leadership, is it possible to learn leadership?  How do people become leaders?  Can we improve our leadership skills?

These are all great questions and my answer is a simple, YES!  However, enhancing your skills does not come through osmosis.  You need to develop a self-education program and learn from people who are already great leaders.  John Maxwell said it best, “To lead tomorrow, learn today.”

Here are three ways you can improve your leadership IQ:

1)  Read Books

The first place to start if you want to become a better leader is to open up a book (or launch your Kindle app).  There are literally thousands of books written by great leaders.  You can get great insight from those who have led thousands of people, turned small companies into billion-dollar brands, or who are raising awesome kids.

If you are having a difficult time figuring out which books to read, here are a few I recommend:

John Maxwell – 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
John Maxwell – Leadership 101
Brian Tracy – How the Best Leaders Lead
Zig Ziglar – See You at the Top
Jim Collins – Good to Great
John Wooden – Wooden on Leadership
Dave Ramsey – Entreleadership

2)  Listen to Podcasts/Audio Books

flickr.com/moominmolly

flickr.com/moominmolly

Alex recently wrote a post on the Leadership Dojo about the best podcasts to listen to for leaders and I suggest you check it out because it ROCKS!

The average American spends 500 hours in the car per year.  Most of these hours are commuting to work and this is valuable time where you could be learning.

When I started my first job out of college, I had a 45 minute commute each way.  There were no podcasts then, but I always had books on tape in my car (yes, back then it was cassette tapes). This is the best place to learn and devour information on how to become a better leader.  Those hours I spent listening to leaders helped me advance in my career and finally, to totally change careers during one of the worst job markets of our time.

3)  Find a Mentor

The fastest way to improve your leadership skills is to find a leader you want to emulate.  Getting to the top is difficult and it is even more difficult if you try to do it alone.  So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, learn from someone who already has the battle wounds.

Find someone who is more successful than you and who will give you honest feedback.  If you can find someone like this, then you will watch your career take off. You will be more successful than you can imagine.

If you implement these three ways to improve your leadership skills, the next year of your life will improve dramatically.  You will look back and wonder, “What Happened?”…in a good way.

What are some ways you improve your leadership skills?

About the Author Alex

15 comments
Charles Hutchinson says September 6, 2013

Thanks for this post. I like listening to podcasts and the list from Alex’s post is great. I hope people take your comment about finding a mentor seriously. The right mentor can be life changing. But, it may take effort (and trial and error) to find the right fit..

    Travis Scott says September 6, 2013

    Charles…thanks for commenting. You are sooo right, a mentor can be life changing. I think the best mentorship is when both people get something out of the relationship

    Alex Barker says September 8, 2013

    I have a friend name Jeff Pearson who is starting a podcast and business called Mentor Impact. I’m super excited about it because it’s all about matching people with mentors. He and I already did our interview. More info to come 🙂

Kate | EntrepreneurOnFire says September 6, 2013

Hi Alex! Thanks for this post – great advice on increasing your leadership IQ. Reading, listening and learning seem to cover it quite nicely! I think people would be amazed to learn how much they can improve their own knowledge ON THEIR OWN (reading/listening to podcasts). There is so much information at our fingertips, we just have to go absorb it! Find the time, make the time, use the time, and good things will come. Great post.

    Travis Scott says September 6, 2013

    Kate…well said. You are exactly right…there is so much information we have access to and we really have a lot of free time to take advantage of that information (i.e. driving in the car, exercising, act). Thanks for the feedback

    Alex Barker says September 8, 2013

    Thanks Kate!

Dan Black says September 7, 2013

These are three great ways to grow our leadership capacity. I’d add attend conferences on a regular basis. The Catalyst conferences are great.

Andrew Maxwell says September 9, 2013

Solid advice Alex. I have learned a ton from podcasts and I look forward toward your in 14 days!

Paul Blais says September 15, 2013

I really like the advice, “Find a Mentor”. How critical is that?! I just don’t think we were designed to go through life as a Lone Ranger. We truly need others in our lives to help sharpen us and refine us. I like this so much that I highlighted it on my podcast, Doubt the Doubts (http://www.doubtthedoubts.com/mikefisher/). Very helpful advice. Thanks for the great content, Alex.

    Travis Scott says September 16, 2013

    Paul…that’s awesome to hear. It’s so true…a mentor is important and they can help us accomplish so much more (and quicker) than if we tried to do it by ourself. Thx for reading

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