Leaders: Be Different to Make a Difference

At some point, everyone will take on a leadership role. Whether you are a parent leading your children through a life lesson or a business owner who leads a team through change, the potential to be a positive influence is all around us. We can influence change and make the world better by growing as a leader. With this concept in mind, let’s explore the following questions:

  • How are you growing your leadership competency?
  • What leadership lessons are you learning?
  • Are you reading and applying what you learn to your life?

In their book, Great Leaders GROW, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller use the acronym GROW to focus on how to become a better leader. They note that leaders should strive to:

  • gain knowledge in areas such as leadership and industry, while also focusing on the needs and strengths of themselves and others
  • reach out to others both formally and informally
  • open their world both inside and outside of the workplace
  • walk in wisdom through both feedback and self-evaluation

After reading this book, I reflected on my personal growth as a leader. The idea of opening my world caught my attention, because it speaks to becoming vulnerable to opportunities that may have been outside of my comfort zone. Change requires doing things differently. For example, a leader could shadow a fellow co-worker to learn his or her job and the impact it has on an organization. The CBS network television show Undercover Boss highlights leaders who go into the workplace and experience the job from an employee’s perspective while learning about the challenges they face. This experience changes not only the leader, but the employee as well.

As another example, a leader could commit to volunteering to help the underprivileged in a developing country. Traveling to another part of the world may sound extreme; however, I can tell you it was the greatest growth opportunity that I have experienced in my life. I was invited to travel to Kenya with a team, to perform medical work in remote villages. I had little experience in leadership, yet this provided me with the chance to learn about myself, working closely with others, while also realizing that I took much for granted. I was pushed to try new and unfamiliar things outside of my comfort zone. It forced me to rely on my strengths and the strengths of others on my team. I developed the ability to communicate with and organize a team, while also learning a lot about an incredible culture. This real-world experience had a tremendous impact on my life and allowed me to be more effective in humbly serving those whom I led day in and day out. It was the desire to open up my world, and my willingness to push myself out of my comfort zone, that afforded me this leadership lesson and opportunity to grow.

About Heather

Heather Mitterer is a 2014 Penn State World Campus graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and a Minor in Psychology. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband.