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5 Ways to Build Leadership Capacity | Leadership Strategies

  • POSTED ON MARCH 07, 2024
Confident leader standing in office space and embodying effective leadership

5 Ways to Grow Your Capacity as a Leader 

 Navigating the evolving challenges of leadership demands more than a playbook: it requires effective strategies that integrate reflection, connection, visualization, feedback, and love — yes, I said it, love. Drawing upon 2 decades as a global leadership trainer, I’m excited to share 5 of my favorite strategies to enhance your leadership capacity. 

Step off the Field: The Power of Pause & Reflection 

In today’s crazy, fast-paced organizational culture, the value of taking a deliberate pause for reflection is underestimated and undervalued. Imagine a soccer game without halftime – players would tire and lose focus, and overall performance would suffer. Similarly, leaders need their “halftime.” This metaphorical timeout invites leaders to step off the field and engage in deep self-reflection. Questions like “How am I playing the game? Who am I being on the field? How am I leading my team?” open a window into your leadership approach, offering valuable insights. This reflective practice extends beyond evaluating performance; it involves understanding not only how to play the game better but also how to find greater enjoyment in it.  

When you find joy in leadership, it connects you to the best version of yourself. This introspective process is key to sustainable leadership growth. It’s not just about winning the game; it’s about playing a game that aligns with your values and brings fulfillment. 

I once had a leader tell me he hadn’t stopped to reflect on his life or his leadership for 20 straight years. He had just been going non-stop. When he finally “came off the field,” he realized he had not been living the life he wanted, nor was he the person he wanted to be. He changed everything after that powerful life-changing P-A-U-S-E. 

Relationship Real Estate: Investing in People 

We all know that successful leadership is not an individual venture; it thrives on the strength of relationships. Building and nurturing connections with your team members is crucial for effective leadership. With the demands of organizational life, investing time in relationships is often met with skepticism. When I hear responses like “I don’t have time to work on relationships,” I share my motto: “Go slow to go fast.” If you spend time building relationships now, it will pay off in the long run and actually save you time. 

Consider your team as a finely tuned machine — every part needs attention and care. Taking the time to give each team member your full attention has them feel seen, heard, and valued. This investment pays dividends because team members are more likely to go the extra mile when they feel a genuine connection with their leader. 

And relationship-building is an ongoing, daily process. It involves understanding the unique strengths and challenges of each team member. It means being present in both their success and their failure. It’s about lots of positive little things, often, like putting a little money in an emotional account every day. I guarantee you that not only will you feel more fulfilled as a leader but when you have a bad day, and you’re not at your best, those solid relationships you’ve built over time will withstand your “shadow” moments. 

Leadership from the Future: The Merlin Method 

Visualization is a transformative tool for leadership development. I learned the Merlin Method from Jim Selman, an American consultant, coach, and author. He explained to me that leaders need to dream up their reality or, in other words, visualize their desired future and then create from there. This leadership development strategy draws inspiration from neuroscience. 

Visualizing the leader you aspire to be activates your internal GPS, guiding you towards that future self. It’s about setting goals and then creating a vivid mental picture and an emotional experience of their success. This visualization process acts as a powerful catalyst, influencing decision-making, behavior, action steps, and overall mindset. 

By creating and sustaining an inspiring vision of your future self, you set the stage for continuous improvement. This proactive approach to personal development not only motivates you but also serves as a model for those you lead. Your commitment to evolving into the best version of yourself becomes a source of inspiration for the entire team. 

Continuous Feedback: Bridging Perception Gaps 

Feedback is a powerful tool for leadership refinement. I urge leaders to seek feedback from various sources on a regular basis so they can bridge the gap between perception and reality. It is not uncommon for leaders to believe their impact is one thing, only to discover a very different perspective when they get feedback. 

I once worked with an executive for 6 months, and we were both convinced that her progress in terms of her social and emotional intelligence was impressive. Then, much to our surprise, we found out at the end of the coaching process that her team had a completely different perception of her evolution. We should have been getting feedback from them all along. 

Leaders should be open to receiving feedback on their performance and impact, continuously. This may involve self-assessment, seeking feedback from the team, or engaging in formal feedback processes. Incorporating this feedback loop into the pursuit of your desired future self creates a more successful approach to leadership growth. 

Having what I call stakeholders — individuals with a vested interest in your leadership journey — ups the rate of success. These stakeholders act as guides as you navigate different aspects of leadership and personal development. Regular feedback ensures a much more accurate understanding of your strengths, areas for improvement, and overall impact on the team. 

Lead with Love: Not Just Romantic, but Impactful 

The final strategy to build your leader capacity, perhaps sounding romantic but undeniably impactful, emphasizes the importance of love in leadership. Leading with love involves multi-faceted dimensions: love for oneself, love for the team, and love for the job. 

Self-love is the foundation of well-being and balance. A leader who prioritizes self-care models resilience and sets a positive example for the team. This form of self-love involves recognizing personal strengths, acknowledging areas for growth, and embracing a holistic approach to leadership. 

Love for the team goes beyond professional obligations. It entails genuinely caring about the well-being and success of each team member. When leaders invest in the personal growth and fulfillment of the team because they want to, not because they have to, it creates a positive and supportive work environment. It creates a good-vibe culture. 

Loving the job involves finding passion in what you do. Leaders are most powerful when leading from a place of genuine enthusiasm and love for their work. If there are aspects of the job that don’t evoke this passion, the challenge becomes finding a way to fall in love with those aspects. Leading with love amplifies the impact of leadership. 

The journey of leadership growth requires intentional reflection, relationship-building, consistent visualization of your desired future, continuous feedback, and leading with LOVE. These effective strategies, when integrated into your leadership approach, create a solid framework for leadership mastery.  

As you walk the path of leadership, it’s important to remember that growth is not a destination but an exciting ongoing journey. Each strategy presented here is a kind of compass, guiding you through the different areas of leadership evolution. So, here’s to leading with purpose, heart, and the unwavering commitment to becoming the best version of yourself, day by day. Cheers to the thrilling adventure of leadership! 

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Written By

Michelle Kempton

Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), Master Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation & founder of Kempton Coaching & Training. Michelle is passionate about leadership development and organizational change. She has a human-centric approach, guiding people and organizations through an evolutionary process to unleash their full potential.

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