When you stop learning, you stop growing. When you stop growing you stop leading effectively. Real leaders are life-long learners. Dan Rockwell shares four essentials to growing into being a great leader; as author Jim Collins said about going from “Good to great.“

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


The leader you are today can only take you places you’ve been.

Becoming the leader you hope to become requires growth. Growth requires change.

4 essentials to growing into great leadership:

  1. Books you read.
  2. Relationships and conversations you have.
  3. The story you tell yourself about the circumstances you’re in.
  4. Stretch opportunities that challenge the way you perceive the world and yourself.


Reading about leadership is a necessary beginning. Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” But it’s only a beginning.

You can’t read your way into great leadership.


We grow when we do things we haven’t done before. The key word is ‘do’. You can’t think your way into great leadership. You can’t dream your way into great leadership. You can only behave your way into great leadership.


Feedback from people who watch your performance is the mirror that ignites transformation.

Growth begins when you see yourself through the eyes of those you serve.

Surprisingly, good intentions aren’t the answer to leadership effectiveness. Good intentions are about you. Impact is about others. Feedback helps you see if your good intentions have the impact you intend.

Leaders end up stuck apart from careful reflection on their behaviors. But it’s hard to see yourself clearly.

We have the capacity to repeat ineffective behaviors in the hope they will start working if we only try harder. Grit in a bad thing lampoons your growth.

Reflecting on your performance translates new leadership practices into leadership development.


Seek specific feedback by exploring the impact of your good intentions.

You might say, “I intended to encourage the team today. Ask:

  1. What did you see me doing that encouraged the team?
  2. What did you see me doing that drained the team’s energy?
  3. How might I better encourage the team?

What has helped you grow into an effective leader?

How might leaders seek feedback without seeming needy or insecure?