Four Essentials For Developing Your Leadership

Flower made of colored bubbles.

You can't improve 1000% in one thing, but you can improve 1% in a thousand things.

Thanks to John Parker Stewart and Daniel Steward for this guest post.

The great hotel founder, J. Willard Marriott, once said, “You can’t improve 1000% in one thing, but you can improve 1% in a thousand things.”

Too often leaders look for a single experience to vault them to success; the unique moment that qualifies them as a complete leader. What they misunderstand is that true leadership development happens through a process of accumulating leadership skills patiently, yet persistently. 

4 essentials in leadership development:

1. Build four critical relationships.

Every leader must achieve results for their boss, their peers, their direct reports, and their customers. As you develop your action plan, identify and focus on the skills and behaviors that provide what each relationship values and needs. 

2. Start small; be persistent.

From small, seemingly simple things, major gains occur. Real and lasting improvements in one’s skill level and leadership talents are developed one step at a time. Patient, persistent effort over time is required to experience gains in one’s ability to lead. 

3. Learn by doing.

Leadership development does not happen during a single event or training session. Instead, leaders must commit to practicing their leadership skills every day.

Leadership development is a journey of insight, action, and reflection. 

4. Improve one or two specific behaviors at a time.

Key leadership skills and behaviors include a range of essential leadership elements such as strategic thinking, decision making, coaching, change management, and more. When pursuing your leadership development, focus on one or two of these at a time.

You experience more profound success when you aim to accumulate skills over time. 


When you reflect on your own leadership skills, what is one change you can make that will most improve your overall effectiveness? 

Would your boss or your direct reports agree? 

What small action can you take every day this week to improve and practice this leadership skill?

John Parker Stewart is an internationally recognized award-winning author, coach, and speaker. He and his Stewart Leadership team provide coaching, training and consulting services to clients globally on change management, leadership development, talent management, and team performance. 

Daniel Stewart is a sought-after talent management and leadership development consultant and coach with proven experience advising senior leaders, leading change, and designing leadership-rich organizations. He is the co-author of LEAD NOW! A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders and he leads Stewart Leadership’s extensive consulting practice, business development, and international partnerships.