My law from John C Maxwell’s best-selling book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of Process. In this law, John teaches that leadership develops daily, not in a day. It is a great lesson about not overestimating the importance of events and underestimating the power of process. The learning process is ongoing and takes consistent, deliberate effort to get better each day. As we know, successful leaders are learners, which is the reason it is so important to invest in continuous learning.
When I first heard about this law, a construction site which was next to our office helped me appreciate the significance of a process.
At first, there was a bare piece of land. The area was sealed off with mabati (corrugated iron sheets) all round, which is common in my part of the world – of course, making provision for an entrance to access the site. Then the digging started, going deeper and deeper each week. From our upstairs office, I would look down, see the work going on, and appreciate that a tall building would need a deep foundation.
For those walking or driving along the road next to the construction site, though, it would appear that nothing was going on because they couldn’t see the digging.
After several months, the groundwork started. It took many weeks before the foundation could get to the ground level. With the base established, it was then time to build the walls. As the structure went up, people on the outside started seeing the building going up. From my vantage point, I understood how much work and time it had taken for the building to get to that level. For some of the people looking in from the outside, though, how the building had come up ‘overnight’ was surprising.
The illusion of seeming ‘overnight success’ works in a similar manner.
To grow as a leader, you start off by acknowledging that you have the potential to get better.
It doesn’t matter whether you are new to leadership or already have some proven leadership skills. You can get better.
Then, determine what you don’t know and need to know.
This is all about raising your awareness of your growth areas and laying the foundation for the work that will follow. You can raise your awareness by taking a leadership assessment.
After that, take steps to fill in the growth gaps identified.
Read books and articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos, attend leadership conferences and seminars where you learn, engage in discussions, and work with mentors and coaches. As you learn the leadership principles and practices that make for success, look for opportunities to apply what you’re learning. Keep learning, keep applying, keep improving.
When you invest in your growth daily, those not privy to what you’re doing may not notice the small but progressive steps you are taking. The day-to-day changes may be very subtle. However, this should not discourage you.
After a while, those around you will start noticing that you’re not the same as what you used to be.
It will not be surprising for some to ask what has changed, what you’ve done. You can then tell them about the process you invested in, and you could get the opportunity to support them in their growth.
I know the above to be true because I have seen it work in my life.
Since I became intentional about developing my leadership, I have grown tremendously. I am aware of specific areas where I have improved and also receive feedback from time to time by those who are experiencing my leadership.
The exciting thing is that the journey continues because growth has no finishing line. Every day, I keep getting better.
The other place I have seen this principle at work is in the lives of those I have been privileged to coach and train. As they have continued to invest in their growth, they have become better. By following the process, you too can advance.
As John says, everyone has the potential to be a leader. However, this cannot be accomplished overnight. It requires perseverance, and you absolutely cannot ignore the Law of Process. Leadership develops daily, not in a day. Do not be fooled by the illusion of overnight success. Invest in the process, and reap the rewards of becoming a successful leader.
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