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The Champion Forum Podcast

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If I knew then: 10 Leadership Shifts I Wish I Learned Sooner

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Successful leaders prioritize their personal growth to best serve the people on their team. But growing can be a challenge. You have to question your assumptions, connect with strong mentors, and be willing to accept where you were wrong. In today's episode, I'm sharing ten shifts in my leadership from the beginning of my career to now. By sharing these lessons, I hope younger leaders can avoid some of the same mistakes.

Listener question: Jeff, now that you are a seasoned leader, can you share some leadership insights that you know but wish you knew better when you began your leadership journey? 

10 Shifts in My Leadership I Wish I Learned Sooner

1. The Power of Listening

When I started as a leader, I focused primarily on giving instructions and making decisions. Now, I realize that listening to others fosters trust and enhances collaboration. Active listening is crucial for understanding the team's needs and concerns.

2. The Importance of Empathy

At first, I believed that showing empathy might be perceived as a weakness. Over time, I understood that empathy strengthens relationships and boosts morale. Empathetic leaders are better equipped to address the personal and professional challenges of their team members.

3. The Value of Delegation

I used to feel the need to control every aspect of a project to ensure its success. My mentors helped me realize that delegating tasks empowers others and fosters skill development. Trusting others with responsibilities builds a stronger, more capable team and prepares them for advancement.

4. Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

I once viewed failure as a sign of incompetence. Now, I see it as an essential part of growth and innovation. Learning from mistakes leads to improvement and encourages a culture where team members are not afraid to take risks.

5. The Significance of Work-Life Balance

I prioritized work over my personal life, believing that long hours equated to dedication and success. After years of experience, I now know maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for long-term productivity and well-being.

6. The Benefits of Continuous Learning

I thought the training my company provided would allow me to reach my goals. But knowledge is a great differentiator. I'm always looking for ways to acquire new skills. Staying curious and open to new ideas allows you to be adaptable and relevant in rapidly changing environments.  

7. The Role of Emotional Intelligence

I used to focus primarily on job skills and product knowledge. But, regardless of your industry, we are all in the people business. Emotional intelligence is grossly underrated. Being aware of and managing emotions, as well as understanding and influencing the emotions of others, is critical to effective leadership.

8.  The Strength in Vulnerability

I believed that leaders should always appear strong and infallible. As I gained leadership confidence, I understood that showing vulnerability creates authenticity and is a great way to build trust. Admitting mistakes and asking for help fosters a collaborative team environment.

9. The Power of Recognition and Appreciation

My focus as a leader was mainly on finding areas for my employees to improve so they could do their jobs better. When a boss of mine helped me understand the balance of deposits and withdrawals, I began to change.

10. The Value of Mentorship

As a young leader, I wanted to figure out my life and career independently. But the "fake it until you make it" strategy failed me! Learning from others' experiences accelerates growth and development. "Borrowing" someone else's wisdom accelerates the leadership journey!

Resources Referenced:

Application Activities:

  1. Which of the ten leadership mentality shifts resonates the most with you? Which shift do you need to work on? Challenge yourself to actively seek out wisdom in that area. Talk about it with a mentor, listen to the associated resources referenced in this podcast, or find a book on the topic. Find someone who can hold you accountable for growing in this area by reviewing the content with you and asking meaningful questions.

  2. Leaders should always be looking for ways to pour into people. List five things you have learned since you started your career. What do you wish you knew when you started? You can even think beyond your career and write down things you wish you knew about marriage, parenthood, volunteering, or coaching. Take time to reach out to young leaders at your job or community and share some of your insights with them.


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