One Essential Key To Becoming a Better Leader

You don’t become a better leader by thinking about becoming a better leader. You become a better leader by test driving untested behaviors.

  1. Lead a meeting in a new way. Try leading from the side of the table, rather than the head, for example.
  2. Point out an inconsistency, when you prefer to ignore it.
  3. Ask a dumb question. “This might be a dumb question, but ….”
  4. Practice transparency when you prefer to keep things to yourself.
  5. Gently say what you see when you prefer to turn away.

You can’t think your way into better leadership.


Effective reflection:

Give yourself reflection points based on actual – not anticipated – behaviors. Don’t sit under a tree contemplating who you would like to become. Try something new.

An hour spent test driving new leadership behaviors is more useful than an hour spent thinking about being an authentic leader.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” (Often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but more likely a quote of Witold Marian Gombrowicz.)

Self-reflection – after taking action – is more useful than introspection before.


Energy goes up when you try something new. The important thing is to reflect after taking action more than before.

Leadership coaching often brings leaders to the point of stopping ineffective behaviors and trying something new. 

  1. What did you do?
  2. How did it work?
  3. What did you learn?
  4. What ineffective behavior would you like to stop?
  5. What new behavior would you like to try?

Act first*:

  1. Plunge yourself into new projects and activities. (re-define your job)
  2. Interact with very different kinds of people. (build new relationships)
  3. Experiment with unfamiliar ways of getting things done. (work on your self)

In times of transition and uncertainty, thinking and introspection should follow action and experimentation – not vice versa. *Herminia Ibarra

What new – perhaps awkward – leadership behavior might you test drive today? (Think about something you’re avoiding.)

How might you maximize a new relationship to better your leadership?