Building up muscles

Photo courtesy of sportsandsocial (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of sportsandsocial (Creative Commons)

The first thing I think of with the phrase “building up muscles” is going to the gym – lifting weights, working arms, shoulders, back, legs. Strengthening them, and making them more defined.

But sometimes there are other muscles I need to strengthen than just my physical ones. There are my leadership muscles, bravery muscles, and even boundary muscles.

In a leadership position, it’s important to practice components such as listening, planning, and making choices. It’s easy to work in the background, but being a leader means facing situations that might make you uncomfortable, whether that is dealing with conflict, change, or a difficult decision. It’s important to step out in bravery in those situations, facing up to your fears and pushing right past them. There is also a very real risk that work will encroach on personal life, so there’s a boundary muscle to strengthen as well.

Practice is important in strengthening those muscles. At the gym, you can’t just do one set of arm curls with weights and expect to see a difference in your biceps. It takes multiple sets, with heavier weights, and repetition regularly.

These other muscles must be built through repetition and practice, too. Making a conscious effort every day to practice some aspect of leadership, bravery and boundaries is the only way to build them up.

And like at the gym where there are several different ways to work your arms, there are multiple ways to develop leadership skills. Hands on practice is best, but also learning comes from leadership books, speakers, and seminars or webinars. I find even just having conversations with other leaders in different fields can be invaluable because you learn from their experience.

What are you doing to build up your leadership muscles?