How do you learn to lead? In most situations you learn to lead by stepping up and trying to lead.
You Learn to Lead by Leading
Think about it – whether you are learning to lead your class in reciting the pledge of allegiance as a child, or you are learning to lead your team to accomplish an unprecedented goal – you learn to lead best by taking on the responsibility to lead.
You can’t learn to lead simply by reading books or taking a course on leadership.
You actually learn to lead by leading. You start going in a certain direction and you influence people to follow you in that direction.
If you want to learn to slam dunk a basketball through the hoop, you learn by attempting to dunk. You can watch other people dunk all day long and never learn how to do it. You can dream of dunking and never learn how to do it. You can talk about it and tell stories about the best slam dunks you have ever seen — but you won’t learn how to dunk until you start trying to dunk.
It’s the same with leadership. You can’t learn to lead until you start trying to lead.
A Word to Leaders: Get Out of the Way!
If you want to develop leaders around you – you have to stop leading and let them try to lead.
It is only in the absence of your direct leadership that those whom you are training to lead will actually learn to lead. You have to get out of the way and let them try to lead.
There’s no other way. They will never build any confidence as leaders until you stop leading and entrust the responsibility to lead to them.
You owe this to them. Don’t just pour into a potential leader from your experience and then never let them lead. This will only frustrate them! And likely – it will drive them away.
You have to stop leading and let them lead because you learn to lead by leading!
It’s the same with preaching. I can train someone how to preach by teaching them how to prepare a sermon. I can show them how I prepare a sermon. I can have them listen to me preach. Yet they will never learn to preach until I get out of the way and let them preach!
If you want to grow as a leader – start leading!
If you want to develop more leaders – stop leading and let them lead!
Of course, debrief the experience with the leaders that you are mentoring to lead.
Challenge: To learn to lead you’ve got to start leading — consider where you can step out and lead!