A few months back, I had the opportunity to personally interview leadership expert and bestselling author John Maxwell. During the interview, he related to me that, even at the age of 71, he continues to learn more about leadership every day while teaching thousands about the topic each month. After publishing 83 books that have sold 26 million copies and presenting over 12,000 speeches on the subject, Maxwell’s leadership journey continues.
I could not agree more with Maxwell’s sentiment. In fact, during my time at Nexstar, I have observed hundreds of companies grow and achieve enormous success. And I have seen many companies — with access to the exact same information and opportunities — struggle. What is different between those that skyrocket and those that struggle? Successful companies have a growing leadership team.
Vision, commitment, consistency, integrity, contribution — these are some of the many values that great leaders hold in the highest regard. Leadership is the “it factor” in any business, especially within an industry that contains a multitude of sources of proven business processes. Leadership is what separates your business from the competitor down the street. Want to be better than your competitors? Commit to becoming a growing, influential leader. Want to be just like them? Then be just like them. Fight fires and complain about the lack of help, low-cost competitors, and the economy.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m only speaking about an owner or CEO becoming a great leader and then directing their staff to do great things. Let me explain what I mean by using the experience of a leadership role model from the past.
Following the end of World War II, renowned electrical engineer David Packard founded Hewlett-Packard. Over time, the company became one of the most iconic tech corporations in America. When asked about the company’s impressive success and amazing growth, Packard stated, “No company can grow revenues consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement growth and still be a great company.” In business circles, this became known as Packard’s Law.
There you have it. Not only is success dependent on the owner or CEO’s leadership, but also on their ability to grow additional leaders within their organization. Simply put, healthy businesses, by definition, demonstrate strong leadership well below the level of owner or CEO.
Maxwell calls this the “Law of the Inner Circle,” which states that those closest to you will determine your potential. Think about that for a moment as you consider the people around you in your business. Does that thought make you smile with anticipation as you see a glorious future for yourself, or does it make you depressed about the road that lies ahead?
WHAT TO DO?
I Googled “leadership training” and got 2.6 billion results. I am not kidding. There are likely more leadership trainers, experts, and “gurus” out there than can be found in any other subject matter. The good news is that there is no end to the information available. The bad news is that this can make it hard to decide who to listen to, and through what medium. Should you read a book, take a class, or listen to a podcast?
I would recommend that you only take leadership advice from people who have been extraordinary leaders in their own lives and businesses, not just because they teach leadership. Every great leader will talk about the mentors that helped them along the way. With today’s technology, you don’t have to personally know a great leadership mentor. You can learn from them via podcasts and videos, or through the pages of a book.
“Leadership Lounge” is a bimonthly podcast that I host, where I interview business leaders about their journey. I have learned an immense amount from each interview, and I consider myself very fortunate to continue to be mentored by outstanding leaders inside and outside our industry and to share what I learn with others.
20 MINUTES EVERY DAY
My commute to and from work takes about 20 minutes. For years, I had three radio stations in my cue. I would listen to the chattering political class on talk radio. When I had my fill, or a commercial came on, I would bounce to sports jocks and listen to their football predictions, and if time allowed, I would then flip to public radio to get some news. I was wasting 40 minutes of my life 250 days a year — that amounts to 170 hours of wasted time in just one year. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous this was.
Today, I use that time differently. My current commute is filled with podcasts and audio books on leadership and other inspirational topics. It has changed me. I feel inspired. I am learning and growing each day. If you are considering where to start on your leadership journey, putting your commute time to work is a great start.
If you are looking for a good place to start, I’d recommend you listen to a recent podcast I did with Maxwell following Nexstar’s annual Super Meeting. You can’t go wrong with this one. But don’t stop there. The universe is full of excellent podcasts on leadership and professional development.
The thing to remember about leadership development is that the process is a journey, not a destination. Having the goal of becoming a great leader is far different than planning for a specific accomplishment (such as setting a budget or completing a project). It is rather a continuing mindset that you as a person of influence at your business will continue to grow as a person and as a leader, and that your first priority is to help those around you do the same.
Publication date: 2/4/2019