Personal growth should be the leader’s highest priority. I’ve described it before like the admonition when flying: In the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first. Recently, after talking about how important it is for leaders to grow, someone asked, “What are YOU doing to grow?”

This is not a trivial question. If you advocate for personal growth, be prepared for someone on your team to ask you the same question. If you’re not walking the talk, you’ll have zero credibility with those you’re charged to lead.

Specifically, as it relates to the question above, my plans for 2014 fall into the four strategies Ken Blanchard and I wrote about in Great Leaders Grow.

G ain Knowledge – I’m always looking for ways to do this. Reading, conferences, time with my new team members one on one and more, fill my 2014 plan. I’m in Camden, Maine this week for Pop Tech. It will be another opportunity for me to challenged and stretched. I’m also part of an on-going group, focused on studying the topic of leadership. We’ve been meeting twice a month for 17 years. This group has been a steady source of inspiration, challenge, accountability and personal growth.

R each Out to Others – The predominant way I’m attempting to execute on this strategy is through my writing. If you’ve not read Great Leaders Grow, here’s the quick summary of this idea. Once you commit to share what you’re learning, it puts pressure on you to keep learning. For me, three posts a week are a significant motivator to continuous learning. Not to mention the challenge of writing a new book every 12 – 18 months.

O pen Your World – Over the last decade, this has been a fun strategy for me. I’ve learned to scuba dive, climbed mountains and run marathons. This year is tamer by my past standards, but still includes some international travel and continued immersion in social media. I’m learning there’s a lot to learn about the Twittersphere. Who knows, maybe Instagram will be next?

W alk towards Wisdom – This strategy is fueled by questions, council and feedback. I’m forever a student of questions; all I have planned for this year, other than continued practice, is to read John Maxwell’s new book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. On the feedback and council front, I’m still working on incorporating the 360 feedback I received last fall. (I conduct a survey of this type about every 18 months.) Regarding council, I’m attempting to meet with men and women throughout the year who can help me grow. I’ve had about a dozen of these meetings to date this year and have more scheduled before the year is over.

As you can tell, there’s nothing magical about my development activities. What matters most is that you and I are intentional concerning our growth. Personal growth for leaders is not automatic, but it is essential.tweet_bird

Enjoy the journey![GLS_Shield]

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.