“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” – Harvey S. Firestone
2013 was a great year for me to blog regularly and share thoughts on topics that are important for personal and professional development and to provide resources to readers and clients using social media. I am working towards building a community of followers that are able to access resources and share them with others. I’ve reviewed some of my original blog posts to see which ones generate the most interest in an effort to expand on those topics that were of most value. This blog builds on one from August 2013 and adds some fresh perspective.
Here are 5 things I’m continuing to work on in 2014 to improve my effectiveness as a leader and ability to add value to my clients. Perhaps you’ll be able to use some of them or maybe they’ll inspire you to create your own list of activities or behaviours you seek to develop or improve.

  1. Clear purpose. Have a defined outcome or mutually agreed outcome for every meeting. Make every client conversation or interaction count. Ensure real value is provided, new thoughts are considered and fresh perspectives are introduced.
  2. Listen hard! Being a good listener is hard work. I want to demonstrate my interest in, and understanding of, my client’s requirements in order to provide relevant and beneficial solutions. Listening for comprehension means restating my understanding and perception of what was said to confirm alignment on the issue, next steps and outcomes.
  3. Use stories. Well chosen stories, metaphors and proverbs can provide insight and understanding that engage the listener at a deeper level and create feelings and emotions that have a positive impact and bring about growth. A good story also makes it easier for my clients to connect with me on a personal level and build trust.
  4. Choose my “hill to die on”. It is ultimately more important to be respected than liked. That doesn’t mean provoking others to anger or frustration. What it does mean is at times I will have to make tough decisions that are based on my core values and beliefs. These decisions generally have significant positive impact and must be carefully thought through as there can be lasting implications.
  5. Patience. Thisis often difficult but always essential. When quick answers are sought and an instant solution is desired, lingering and reflecting on an issue can be difficult. I believe that the most important answers and next steps require time and reflection. I’ve learned that set-backs, challenges and barriers test us to see if we are serious and committed to improve and develop a new way forward.Your development list may be somewhat different than mine. Whatever you select, ensure that by focusing and working hard to achieve these goals you will be better, more effective and adding value to those you work and interact with. As you look back on 2014 twelve months from now, you’ll likely have stepped out of your comfort zone, learned from your challenges, made some mistakes, leveraged your successes and ultimately be more valuable to your clients, colleagues and family. Go for it. It’s worth it!

“Your business and results are a reflection of you. Your business and results will grow in direct proportion to your own growth.”-James A. Ray