How to Stretch Yourself as a Leader

How to Stretch Yourself As a Leader

As leaders, many of us start our careers with energy and passion — we’re eager to grow our skills and make a difference.

But once we reach a certain level of success, there’s a danger that we can lose that drive to dream big. We’re tempted to slow down and protect what we’ve earned. We tell our teammates, “Come with me — we’ll be as good tomorrow as we were yesterday.”

Whether we mean to or not, we as leaders set the pace for our teams. And if we want to stay in business and positively influence our teammates, then settling is not an option.

In the news, we’ve watched companies get too comfortable and fall hopelessly behind — remember Blockbuster and Kodak? On the other hand, we’ve seen great examples of companies pushing themselves to new heights; Amazon purchasing Whole Foods, Facebook rewriting its mission statement and Netflix pouring billions of dollars into original programming, to name a few.

Great leaders must continually challenge themselves to stretch with a vision for the future; it’s critical to the way we lead our teams and ourselves.

Take a moment to consider your business vision. Where have you held back or gotten stuck? Where could you dream bigger or push yourself to do something truly great?

Here are two ways to stretch yourself and your team.

Rally Your Team Behind a Greater Purpose

Your teammates need to believe their work is about more than logging away the hours in a little gray cell. If they don’t, then boredom, anxiety and other day-to-day problems will start to take over.

That’s why it’s so important to stretch yourself past the daily management routine and give your team a clear and compelling vision of where you’re leading them. Show them what you’re going to build together and how you’re going to improve the world.

Above all, make sure each teammate understands why his or her unique role is essential to the process. If your company is on a mission to make a positive difference in customers’ lives, then share that with your teammates so they can own your vision as their own.

When your teammates know your vision, they’re more motivated to view current challenges in perspective and tackle their regular tasks with a greater sense of purpose.

Define a vision that inspires and challenges you, and watch that fire spread throughout your team.

Keep Your Eyes on Your “Why”

A compelling vision can also help you clarify your own role and purpose. Leaders with vision make better decisions in the present, because they know where they’re headed and what they’re ultimately aiming for.

If you find yourself fighting the urge to settle, it’s time to think big about your company’s next five, ten or twenty years. What ideas get your gears turning? What kind of mark do you want to leave on the world?

Maybe you could build something new or delight each customer you encounter. Or perhaps you could set aggressive growth goals to maximize your impact on the world.

It all comes back to your “why” — the greater purpose that drives your everyday work. Knowing your “why” gives you clarity and confidence to look past day-to-day issues and see the bigger picture. It can help you say “no” to good opportunities so you can say “yes” to the great ones.

So figure out what inspires you — what raises the hair on the back of your neck — and push yourself to make that vision a reality. Then watch it impact your leadership and your team for years to come.


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