Leaders often think of growth in terms of achieving big milestones, like record sales or promotions.
But we so often overlook the importance of small, simple steps that lead to long-term success.
By taking small, consistent steps, you create healthy habits, and by creating greater habits you achieve greater results.
For that reason, leaders who really want to take their career and team to the next level focus on the question:
“What are some simple things I can do right now (where I’m at, with what I have) to grow as a transformational leader?”
So that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. To help you grow as a leader, we’ll walk through 4 simple practices you can start doing as soon as you finish reading this post.
Step 1: Tap into your power
I have a $15,000 Rolex watch.
I didn’t buy it, but I earned it through my work in sales when I was 24 years old.
Back then, the company I was working for had a year-end award ceremony every December. Kind of like an Academy Awards for the sales industry.
The owner of the company would stand up and give out awards until the #1 salesman was called up to receive the Rolex watch.
Having only been with this company for a few weeks, I was completely in awe of this salesman who was actually a buddy I met during my first two weeks working there.
He showed the watch to me and I said “Oh my God, next year I want to win that watch.”
“Great, you can do that,” he responded. “Just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep learning, keep growing.”
So the new year started and I’m on pace for the first few months. But by June, there was a shift in management and I went from salesman to department manager.
My new role disqualified me from winning the watch.
By that next awards ceremony, someone else got the watch and I believed that my opportunity to win and be declared the best had come and gone. My career was past that possibility.
I let my circumstances define my limitations.
A couple years later, I became friends with a legendary salesperson at a competitive company. On one visit, I noticed a cardboard piece hung up on his wall.
There were all these different things on it like a speedboat, sports car, and even a Rolex watch.
I asked him what it was and he told me it was a vision board; a place to visualize all his goals and remind him of what he wanted in his life.
I pointed at the watch and said “I really wanted one of those, but my opportunity came and went.”
And he shrugged and said “Well you make enough money, you can go buy yourself a watch.”
But I shook my head and told him “It’s not really about that. I wanted to win one. I love the idea of it as an award for a job well done.”
“Well,” he asked, “why don’t you go talk to your boss and ask him what it would take to be a watch?”
At that point, I brought up my circumstances again – how I was a manager and only sales people were awarded the watch.
Without missing a beat, he said “Look, you are more powerful than that. You can come up with an idea.”
Instead of being limited in my thinking, he helped me transform my situation into an opportunity.
Right then and there I learned the first simple practice that helped me grow as a leader:
Remind yourself that you are greater than any circumstance, situation, or condition.
So I went up to my boss and asked “What would it take for me to demonstrate that I’ve added so much value as a leader that it would warrant an award like a Rolex watch?”
Instead of outright rejection, he gave me some benchmarks that I would have to hit. I had to exceed the budget by a certain percent. With those milestones, I moved on to the next step in my growth as a transformational leader.
Step 2: Create a Vision Board
After receiving those collective goals and tasks, I put them all on my own vision board. I created an image of what I would love and I made a simple practice of visualizing those results every single day.
The direct impact of visualization is about the mindset and focus it creates. Successful people use the power of visualization on a daily basis, and you can get started with 4 easy steps:
Use your imagination to create a crystal-clear image of the results you want to create. In this way, you trend your thoughts away from negativity and instead make a conscious effort to increase the volume on positive brave thinking. Then, write down your goals and dreams on paper.
As a result in my own life, I tapped into my creativity to seek opportunities I wouldn’t have believed possible before.
Building your vision is all about the “what” and releasing the “how”. In other words, focus on what you want, believe you can achieve it, and let go (for now) of how you’re going to make it happen.
A powerful way of increasing your belief is through spoken affirmations. When you repeat your dream, you reiterate it into your subconscious, and that in turn helps match your energy with the vision you hold.
Aligning your emotions with your vision is part of matching your energy with your dream. A simple way of accomplishing this is by behaving as if you already achieved your dream. This works because everything in life is created twice. First in thought, then in physical form.
So first, you step into the version of you that has already succeeded (think about how you would feel, the thoughts you would have, and what you would do). Then, you work on getting to that point from the energy of it already existing in your current reality.
Your thoughts influence your actions, your actions form your habits, and your habits determine your results.
The final piece of visualization is to simply allow yourself to receive freely from the Universe. This means as you make your thoughts, emotions, and actions aligned with what you would love, be ready and willing to actually receive what you desire.
Here’s the thing: you were born worthy. So stick with that sense of deserving and gratitude and open the floodgates for all that the Universe is willing to give you.
All four steps can happen with a single vision board. The main idea is to create mental images you can continually go back to and remind yourself of what you would love.
As for me, I put all my benchmarks on my vision board, and then went on to the next simple practice I used to grow as a leader.
Step 3: Ask Yourself How You Can Add Value TODAY
My next focus as a transformational leader was to determine how I could go the extra mile. I had my big picture goals in front of me, but I had to answer the question of how I could add value to myself and my team in the here and now.
Theodore Roosevelt broke it down to this:
Do what you can with what you have, from where you are.
So to start, I began to train my team with a passion that was on a whole level from what I was used to. I was adding value in a whole new way on a daily basis in service of my vision.
I didn’t wait for inspiration and I didn’t wait for anyone to come in and answer all the questions for me.
I encourage you to adopt the same growth mindset and allow yourself to experiment, explore, and experience failure on your way to inevitable success.
Take me as an example. Although I was empowered by the fact that I was greater than any circumstance, situation, or condition, I eventually got to the point where I ran out of new ideas. As I got backed into a corner, I learned my fourth leadership practice.
Step 4: Always Be Learning
The key ingredient in feeding your transformational leadership is constant learning.
In a quip: Leaders are readers. Leaders are learners.
To this day, 30 years later, I read about 12-15 books a year. By reading and learning, I continue to find answers to how I can add value every day.
You compound value through mentorship, training, and learning as a leader.
And sure enough, by the end of the year, my legendary friend who introduced me to his vision board was in the audience of my company’s Academy Awards ceremony.
I remember the owner of the company coming out with a big smile on his face and saying “I want to announce a new award! We’ve got the Leader of the Year Award, and for the very first time we’re giving this award away, the recipient is none other than Mr. John Boggs!”
I finally won my watch, and I share this story with you not to impress you, but to impress upon you that you can do these things too.
CONCLUSION: Becoming a Successful, Transformational Leader is a Continuous Process
To summarize, the number one practice to grow as a transformational leader is to know that you are greater than any circumstance, situation, or condition.
When you connect to source (the Universe, God, Life, etc.), your possibilities are limitless.
Number two is to create an image of what you would love, focus on it, and practice using your visualization tools.
Third, always seek new answers to how you can add value. Where can you create an increase in yourself and your team?
And finally, to grow as a leader: learn, read, grow, repeat.
Commit to these four simple practices and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of exponential growth as a result of your collective, consistent action.
And if you would love expert support in your leadership development and to grow as a leader, I invite you to download my free ebook entitled 22 Great Qualities of a Transformational Leader.
Inside, I lay out the 22 most important leadership qualities to inspire, influence, and motivate your team for increased productivity and accelerated growth. This guide goes beyond basic steps and deep dives into effective leadership skills, identifying growth opportunities, and transforming your leadership style from the inside-out.
Until then, take small, consistent steps leading up to your big success story.
To your leadership journey,