What if you were unable to improve from this point on? What if you, no matter what your role or title was, would get no better at your job, the results you achieve, or your abilities? What if you knew that to be the case too, if further improvement, further learning, further success was just off the table for you?
How would you feel? How would you approach your work? How would you show up? How would you execute?
For most of us, it would take the fun, the interest, the fulfillment completely out of the work we do and the reasons we do it.
Humans are inherently connected to the idea of progress. Unfortunately, not progressing can become a habit, a rut, a pattern. We probably all know people who are about where they were 10 years ago in their job, their abilities or even their life. Maybe they haven’t learned new things, been challenged by new opportunities, or continued to develop in the work that they do. Maybe that’s even us.
It’s one of the reasons that leaders matter so much. Leadership is most simply about making things better. It’s about leaving people and organizations better than they were before our impact on them. It’s about causing progress, improvement, success. It’s about interacting with others in ways that make them think differently, grow, and achieve more.
Leadership is about better. Because humans are fulfilled, engaged, and excited about progress. It’s a very good thing that we are because it means that improvement causes even more desire for more improvement and that’s an incredibly powerful cycle that virtually guarantees consistently greater success. It’s a leader’s job to help people get that cycle started for themselves.
Ever go on a diet and then step on that scale and see a pound gone and get excited for the next one? Ever lift more weight and then get excited about adding even more weight to the bar and lifting that too? Ever make a gourmet meal that everyone loved and get excited about the next meal you want to create? Ever save enough money that you see a real difference in your account and then want to save even more?
Progress motivates, inspires, and energizes. And while leaders cannot make progress for other people, they can help them plan, focus, and practice until progress happens. They can ask questions that challenge the future and cause people to have insights about the contributions they want to make to it. They can make people think bigger, expand their possibilities, and remove roadblocks that get in the way of progress.
Your job as a leader is to make things better.
Here are some questions we can all think about that help us focus on our responsibility to leave things better than we found them.
7 Questions to Increase Your Impact as a Leader
- What do each of the people on my team think “better” looks like for them?
- How can I help them start making progress toward that picture of “better”?
- What have I done in the last 30 days to be a better leader for people that are counting on me to help them achieve more success?
- What am I learning and practicing right now so that I can be more effective in my role?
- What is one thing that if I were better at it, could help me have a more positive impact on my team or my business? What’s my plan for getting better at that one thing?
- What do I most want to excel at? And how much practice time is on my calendar so that I can make progress toward excellence in that area?
- Where on my schedule next week is there dedicated time for learning or improvement?
Leadership is not about showing up and getting the work done. It is about showing up and making things better. Of course, work has to get done, but how it gets done, how people engage in doing it, how much more capable the team is after doing it, how much progress is made in the way we do it; Those things have to be on the leader’s mind far more than the work itself.
Sometimes leadership happens to us. We make our own progress and find ourselves in a leadership role where, now, we are responsible for the progress of the business, or the people, or both. And if leadership has happened to us, we now must happen to leadership. Better doesn’t happen by accident.