Leadership is about contribution. Are you a leader who wants to make a significant contribution to your organization, your community, or the world? It is in your power to make it happen. The best leaders aren’t born. They are made through hard work and unrelenting dedication. Great leadership is a performance art — honed with intention, practiced mindfully, and improved constantly. So how can a devoted leader, who is ready to do the work, achieve breakthrough in their leadership? There is a dizzying amount of leadership wisdom that is helpful but it often requires lots of reflection and time to begin applying. Here are two smart things the best leaders do that are immediately actionable and completely in your control.
1. Do Your Homework.
When our Founder & CEO, Doug Conant, became CEO of Campbell Soup Company in January of 2001 — he had never been a CEO before. Knowing that an ability to be an extraordinary (or even effective) CEO is not innate, he endeavored to read all the writings of the leading business thinkers. He sought, with ardor and diligence, the knowledge that could help him contribute more meaningfully. This pursuit of expert knowledge helped him immeasurably as he successfully turned around a struggling soup company and ultimately delivered cumulative shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry. Hear him talk firsthand about how to take the initiative, do your homework, and get better at leading in this short video:
2. Build a Network.
The best time to cultivate a collection of people who are genuinely interested in helping you reach your career or life goals is before the going gets tough. An engaged network of other people who are invested in supporting you, and who you are happy to support in return, can be your most powerful tool on your leadership journey. And, you can learn from their experiences and advice as they walk their own leadership paths. It only requires good communication and a sincere effort. You can start today. Hear Doug talk about the profound impact of building a network in this short video:
If your ambition to be an extraordinary leader is set — get to work immediately in these two smart ways. Treat your work as your craft and your craft as sacred ground by studying it carefully and learning from the experiences of the other great leaders in your growing network.