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What are you learning right now?

Some things you can teach yourself.  I’m currently teaching myself to touch type (this article is being brought to you at literally eight words a minute!); with more complex skills, we may need the input of others, perhaps a coach.

How are you developing your leadership?  We all need to lead ourselves.  And whatever our role, we all need to influence others – in other words, we need to lead.

Many planning meetings go something like this: “We are here and we want to get there,” as the leader boldly draws a straight line from the bottom left to the top right on the flip chart.

Unfortunately for all the times that I have seen this drawn, I have never once seen it work out like that.

Life doesn’t go in a straight line. We do not have total control and our path is far from being obstacle-free. We live in a highly changing, dynamic world. Our 21st century environment has been described as a “VUCA world” – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

Road or rail maps are not the best ways to look at leadership. The real world has changing weather conditions, choppy waters and unexpected obstacles. The real leadership journey that you face is much more like sailing the high seas than cruising along an empty motorway.

Leadership is the art of navigating, through all weathers and conditions, to achieve your purpose and mission. Unfortunately, when sailing, there are no signposts in the water that say turn right or left. Your biggest leadership challenge will be how you navigate, rather than how you steer.  Navigation requires judgment and not just following a pre-ordained path.

Illustration1_Navigating from A to B-2

Do you have someone to help you on your leadership journey? Perhaps a coach or mentor who is helping you grow personally to think through the challenges and plans you have? Although nothing is as good as a face-to-face meeting with a trusted adviser, Leaders’ Journal: 40 days of self-coaching is possibly the next best thing. It is designed to help you coach yourself, or support a mentor relationship.

When I and my colleagues John Greenway and Andy Blacknell wrote Leaders’ Journal, we had three things in mind:

  • Leadership is about taking people with you on a journey of common purpose and direction
  • The journey will be unpredictable… more akin to navigating choppy seas than driving along a straight road.
  • We want to help you navigate your voyage more effectively and reach your chosen destinations.

Leaders’ Journal is designed to be read over forty days, ten minutes a day.  Things can change over forty days. Mind-sets can be re-set, purpose and direction can become clearer, confidence can be strengthened and new habits may be formed.

It’s a journal, not a manual.  So along with clear leadership principles illustrated with inspirational stories, there is plenty of space – space to think, space for your personal reflections and jottings. And there are forty great practical ideas and tools to learn from, use and re-use.

Like touch typing, you learn better getting it right slowly than getting it wrong quickly.

Happy sailing!


An adapted version of this article first appeared in ‘Network‘, the HPMA e-zine, October 2015.