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Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

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Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

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Oct 19, 2020


"Daily Leadership Development" is a leadership development guidebook that offers day-by-day instruction in bite-sized chunks. It is grounded in research and best practices, and authored by one of the nation's foremost experts on leadership, Doctor Ronald E. Riggio. Written is an accessible and conversational tone, each day's topic covers a specific aspect of leadership and offers practical tips for personal development.

This must-have leadership guidebook is built upon expert advice and guaranteed to build your leadership skills. It includes several self-assessments to evaluate your leadership strengths, style, and areas for development so you can pinpoint the things you need to work on most.
Lançado em:
Oct 19, 2020

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Daily Leadership Development - Ronald E. Riggio

Daily Leadership Development

365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Kravis Leadership Institute

Claremont McKenna College

Daily Leadership Development. Copyright © 2020 by Ronald E. Riggio. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations properly referenced.

First Edition

For information: riggioleadership.org

ISBN: 9781098338879

Introduction: How to Use This Book

This book is intended to be a guide to help you learn more about leadership and to develop your leadership skills and potential. I have been researching and teaching leadership and organizational psychology for four decades, and nearly everything that I’ve learned has been incorporated into this book. You will find it a valuable resource on your leadership development journey.

Every entry is thoroughly grounded in the latest research and practice in leadership and organizational behavior. There are self-assessments to measure leader competencies, personality traits, and behavioral styles. The book contains practical explanations of leadership theories, concepts, and skills, to widen your knowledge base. In addition, there are resources and ideas provided to help you with your development as a leader. You may want to keep a notebook handy to record your thoughts and reflections and to score some of the assessments.  Keeping a daily or weekly journal is also recommended. Additional resources are available at riggioleadership.org.

A Day at a Time, A Week at a Time

The book is divided into weekly and daily topics. Each day offers a short essay focusing on one aspect of leadership, that are then organized under weekly themes. You can read one per day, or cover a week at a time (or more). You can even skip around if you like. For each entry there are tips for leadership development. Leadership development takes time and reflection, so don’t move too quickly through this guidebook.

Table of Contents

Week 1: Getting Started

Week 2: Your Leadership Development Journey

Week 3: Definitions of Leadership

Week 4: Leader Behaviors

Week 5: Leadership Theories and Leader Development

Week 6: Transformational Leadership

Week 7: Leadership Myths & Truths

Week 8: Leadership and Multiple Intelligences

Week 9: Leadership and Social Skills

Week 10: Leadership and Power

Week 11: Leadership Lessons From…

Week 12: More Leadership Lessons

Week 13: Still More Leadership Lessons

Week 14: Drucker on Leadership

Week 15: Followers and Followership

Week 16: Leadership and Success

Week 17: The Dark Side of Leadership

Week 18: More Dark Side Leadership

Week 19: Good Leadership

Week 20: Ethical Leadership

Week 21: Leader Qualities

Week 22: Complex Leadership

Week 23: Leadership and Human Resources Practices

Week 24: Leadership and Human Resources Practices

Week 25: Leadership and Motivation

Week 26: Leadership and Complex Decision Making

Week 27: Leadership and Teams

Week 28: Leadership and Teams

Week 29: More Leadership and Teams

Week 30: Leadership and Organizational Politics

Week 31: More Leadership and Organizational Politics

Week 32: Toxic Cultures, Toxic Leaders

Week 33: Advanced Leader Communication

Week 34: Stress and Leadership

Week 35: More Stress and Leadership

Week 36: Your Leadership Career

Week 37: Managing Your Career

Week 38: Inclusive Leadership

Week 39: Leadership and Diversity

Week 40: Leader Self-Care

Week 41: Advanced Leader Skills

Week 42: The Leader’s Personality

Week 43: Complex Personality Traits

Week 44: The Leader’s Toolkit

Week 45: More Tools for the Leader’s Toolkit

Week 46: Leaders and Followers Working Together

Week 47: Looking Inward

Week 48: Leadership in Context

Week 49: Leadership Challenges

Week 50: Your Leadership Legacy

Week 51: Review

Week 52: Resources


Index (by Day)


About the Author

Week 1: Getting Started

Day 1

Do You Have the Strength to Lead?

Leadership is about character.

Of course, I’m talking about inner strength, not physical ability (although physical health is important for leaders). What are some of the types of strength that leaders should possess to be effective?

Character Strengths are critically important. Do you have the courage to lead effectively—to stand by your convictions? The courage to take calculated risks? And the courage to do the right thing? Do you have the strength to admit when you are wrong? Can you control your emotions? Do you have the strength to be fair – to fight against systems or people who are unfair?

The Strength to Develop, Sacrifice, and Succeed

An effective leader also shows inner strength by admitting to shortcomings and seeking to rectify these and to develop more fully as a leader. Leaders also display inner strength when they sacrifice for the good of the team and the organization, and when they fight hard to overcome obstacles to success.

For Development: The good news is that we can develop these strengths of character, whether we are in a leadership position, or not. Let’s begin by making a commitment to develop as a leader and as an individual of solid character.

Day 2

Leader Development vs. Leadership Development

What’s the difference?

My colleague, David Day1, has made a clear distinction between leader development—which focuses on developing individual leaders’ skills and competencies—and leadership development, which tries to build the shared leadership capacity of the leader and the members of the work team. We focus nearly all of our energy on leader development, and this is where we fall short.

All too often, in both leadership development programs and in the study of leadership, we neglect the key role that followers play in the equation. I find myself doing this when teaching students about leadership—we over-focus on the importance of the leader and what the leader does. Rarely do we give serious attention to the role that followers play—are they merely being obedient followers, passively going along, or do they question the leader and hold the leader accountable?

In this book, we will focus on both leader development—helping you become an exemplary leader. We will also focus on leadership development—helping you to increase the leadership capacity in your team or department. How do we do the latter? By engaging followers and developing their capacity to work with leaders and together co-construct leadership.

For Development: A leader without engaged and committed followers will not produce leadership. Consider how you can leverage your followers’ leadership capacity to help you lead better.

Day 3

Why Do You Want to be a Leader?

What motivates you to lead?

ASSESSMENT: On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements:

I am the type of person who likes to be in charge of others.

I usually want to be the leader in the groups that I work in.

I am only interested to lead a group if there are clear advantage for me.

Leading others is really more of a dirty job rather than an honorable one.

I feel I have a duty to lead others if I am asked.

It is not right to decline leadership roles.

An important piece of research by Chan and Drasgow2 talks about individual differences in an individual’s motivation to lead—examining the reasons why someone might choose a leadership position. They focus on three types of motivation:

Affective Identity. This motivation to lead comes from an actual enjoyment of being in a leadership position.

Calculative-Non-Calculative motivation to lead involves the extent to which an individual weighs the costs and benefits of taking on a leadership role. Leadership has its benefits and its burdens. A person high on non-calculative motivation to lead, doesn’t much consider the costs and benefits.

Social-Normative motivation to lead is feeling an obligation to lead. For example, other people might call on you or nominate you to take on a leadership position, and that social pressure motivates you to lead. An individual might also feel an obligation to take on leadership in order to take on a cause—a social movement—or to enact change.

[Scoring: Items 1 & 2 = Affective Identity; Items 3 & 4 = Calculative; Items 5 & 6 = Social-Normative]. Pay attention to the scales with the highest scores.

For Development: Which is your strongest type of motivation to lead. Why is motivation to lead important? It helps provide insight into what motivates a person to lead, and provides a foundation for future leadership development. Think about how your personal motivation to lead can affect you and your future as a leader.

Day 4

How Do Leaders Really Develop?

What is the leader development process?

To truly develop as a leader there are two distinct processes at work. We refer to these as top-down and bottom-up processing. They work together in leader development.

Top-down processing involves acquiring knowledge about leadership. This can be from leadership/management classes, from observation of good leaders, from reading about great leaders, or from learning from mentors.

Bottom-up processing comes from leadership experiences either on the job, or in trainings/simulations. Bottom-up processing involves analysis of the situational elements in which one leads; and learning first-hand about the dynamics of leader-follower relationships, organizational politics, and norms and roles in the leadership situation.

These two processes work together in leader development. Top-down processing provides information and ideas that can be used in developing leadership strategies. Bottom-up processing allows the leader to ascertain how effective different leadership strategies are in the actual work or community setting. Both are important.

In this guide, we will offer both top-down and bottom-up strategies. You will learn about leadership, as well as learning how to lead.

For Development: Learning about leadership—about theories, methods, and techniques—actually helps because it provides understanding of the dynamics and processes of leadership. Read regularly about leadership, but also learn to profit from experiences. Put the two together, and this is how great leaders develop.

Day 5

Your First Step to Becoming a Strong Leader

This is a critical prerequisite for all leaders

Self-awareness is crucial for developing as a leader. It is essential that a leader have a deep understanding of oneself, including leadership strengths and shortcomings. Self-awareness also means understanding one’s values and motives. Douglas T. Hall3 suggests that self-awareness involves a leader’s ability to be truly conscious of the self, and the ability to observe it accurately and objectively.

Unfortunately, for many of us, this is not easy.

That’s why it is important to constantly be attuned to feedback from others, whether it is offered, or you actively solicit it. This is the idea behind 360-degree feedback—getting performance feedback from all angles, from those who report to you, from your supervisor, from peers, and from customers or external sources (if appropriate).

For Development: Get in the habit of soliciting feedback from those whom you lead on a regular basis. Pay attention to supervisors’ evaluations of your strengths and weaknesses. Approach all of this with an open mind, trying not to get defensive. Use this information to target areas for improvement/development, and leverage your strengths to your advantage.

Weekend 1

Days 6 & 7

Why Self-Reflection is Critical to Leader Development

Reflection makes learning stick.

If you began reading this book on a Monday at work, this is your first weekend! What better time to talk about self-reflection?

If we are to truly develop as leaders it is important to pause now and then and reflect on the lessons we have learned. This can be done systematically—what the military calls After Action Reviews (AARs), whereby a structured evaluation and reflection is conducted after any important leadership action or event. Or, it can be done more informally. [We will discuss AARs in depth later].

Weekends are good times to reflect on our leadership in the prior week. What went right? What went wrong? How could things have been handled better? What lessons have I learned to guide my leadership in the future?

For Development: Get into the habit of regularly reflecting on your leadership. When can you do this? You can set a structured time, or you can do it during your downtime. You can journal or you might talk things over with a partner.

I often find myself engaging in self-reflection when I awake in the middle of the night and can’t immediately go back to sleep. It is a good, quiet time for me to self-reflect on the previous week’s actions (and, when done reflecting, it helps me to feel good about myself and go back to sleep).

Use this first weekend to reflect on why you want to be a leader, and if you have the motivation and strength to develop. My colleague, David Day, uses the analogy of a gym membership for leader development: If you don’t put the time in and work at it, no development will take place.

Week 2: Your Leadership Development Journey

Day 8

Leadership is a Journey, Not a Destination

3 Foundations for Leader Development.

This is one of my favorite quotes about leadership development. What this means is that every leader, regardless of position or successes, needs to continually work on leadership development.

Self-insight/Awareness. It is impossible to understand the needs and perspectives of followers if you don’t first understand yourself. Good leaders need to be aware of their typical behavior and how they are perceived by others. 

Self-regulation. Leaders get into trouble when they engage in knee-jerk responding or habitually use the same strategy in different types of situations. Self-regulation is controlling impulses and learning how to analyze situations in order to think about the big picture and long-term results. Self-regulation allows the leader to initiate the correct actions at the right time and in the right situations.

Self-identity. This is the heart of the leadership journey. Self-identity is how one views oneself as a leader. Leaders need to develop a leadership identity that serves as a positive role model for followers. This includes adhering to a set of ethical values to guide behavior. The development of self-identity is a continuous learning process—a big part of the leadership journey.

For Development:  We’ve focused on developing self-awareness previously, and we will look at self-regulation in depth. Let’s focus on developing self-identity:

Using self-insight, consider who you are as a person (we have many different identities, including gender, race, age, religion—we will explore these later in the book), and who you want to be as a leader. Develop that positive leader identity. Consider the image you want to convey. Compare your real self to your ideal self. Striving to be that ideal leader will motivate further development.

Day 9

Do You Have the Motivation to Develop Your Leadership?

Continuous learning of leadership is not easy.

We have already discussed different motivations to be a leader. Two of my friends/colleagues, Becky Reichard and Stefanie Johnson,4 introduced the idea that a person possesses motivation to develop as a leader, which is an individual’s desire to engage in leader development efforts. In other words, some leaders don’t want to engage in continuous learning—they already believe they know it all (or know enough), or they don’t have the motivation to develop further.

Hopefully, you are reading this book because you have the motivation to develop as a leader.

Here are some items from a Motivation to Develop scale that indicate that you are motivated to develop your leadership.

The reason that I will continue to broaden my leadership skills is because it’s interesting to learn more about the nature of leadership.

I am willing to put in the effort needed to become a better leader.

 I will participate actively in leader self-development because learning to lead well is an important part of my career.

The reason that I will continue to broaden my leadership skills is because it’s a challenge to really understand how to solve leadership problems.

 I will participate actively in leader self-development because I feel like it’s a good way to improve my skills and my understanding of leadership.

For Development: Consider the ways you are motivated to develop as a leader. How can you become better motivated to develop? Perhaps you will need to set up a self-reward system. In many cases, having a partner who is also interested in leader development will help you to use the buddy system to motivate each other and check on progress.

Day 10

Can Leadership Really Be Developed?

You better believe it!

Each year in the U.S., billions of dollars are spent by companies and individuals on leadership development programs. A critical question is: does leadership development work? The answer is, yes, but some programs seem to work better than others.

A series of meta-analyses, which are essentially statistical studies of studies, shows that across all efforts to develop leadership there are modest, positive improvements. Psychologist Bruce Avolio5 and his colleagues looked at 100 years of leadership development programs. This meta-analysis showed that across programs, regardless of the type of training, leadership development worked.

As you might imagine, the time devoted to leadership development matters, with longer programs having more positive impact than programs that last a day or two. Moreover, it is important that programs follow a tried and true leadership model to guide development efforts.

This is all positive news for those of us involved in leadership development and for those of us who are trying to develop as leaders. Even old dogs can learn new tricks, or new ways to lead.

For Development: Have a plan. Work on your leader development, through this book, through training opportunities, and by being a continuous learner. The very best leaders that I know are the first to say that they are still learning to be a better leader.

Day 11

5 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what experts say.

We assembled a distinguished panel of accomplished leaders for one of our events at the Kravis Leadership Institute and asked them the following question: What do you do to continuously develop as a leader?

Here is a summary of their responses:

1.     Be an Active Learner. Stay intellectually curious. One leader said, I try to learn at least one new thing each day. Another mentioned the importance of a growth mindset—being constantly open to new learning—referring to the research of psychologist Carol Dweck.

2.     Be a Positive Role Model. One accomplished leader said that he asks himself the question, how can I better model good and ethical leadership? He said, I try to get better every day by thinking about how I am perceived by my followers. Am I setting a good example for them? Am I doing the right thing?

3.     Be Flexible. Don’t get stuck in a rut, was the recommendation of one of our leader panelists. She said that it is important to try new things—including new problem-solving strategies. Moreover, several panelists mentioned the importance of always being alert to opportunities to develop, both at work and outside of work.

4.     Use a Mentor/Coach. Many of our higher-level leaders hired executive coaches to help them develop their leadership capacity. Others, however, mentioned that any leader, at any level, can reach out to mentors. As one executive said, Consult with people who know you. Ask for constructive feedback and advice. You don’t have to use only one mentor, you may find it useful to have mentors for different aspects of leadership. [We will discuss both mentoring and coaching later.]

5.     Take on Challenges. In order to grow and develop as a leader, it is important to take on challenges and stretch assignments. As one leader said, take on a challenge or task that no one else wants to do, and learn and grow from the experience. Another mentioned the well-known notion that we learn from our failures. If you fail, try to learn from it. The next time, you likely will succeed.

For Development: All too often, seasoned leaders believe that they know it all and that there is nothing left to learn. Nothing could be further from the truth. Developing as a leader is a lifelong pursuit. Think about what you can do today to develop your leadership.

Day 12

What Are Crucible Events?

How do these promote leader development?

A crucible event is any sort of challenging experience or leadership failure that leads to some transformation in the leader and promotes positive leadership development.

John Gardner, founder of Common Cause and author of On Leadership, said that the training that he received from the United States Marine Corps during World War II was a crucible experience for him, setting him on a path of leadership.

Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off of a South African train because of his Indian heritage and it inspired him to fight racial discrimination against Indians living in South Africa. It caused him to dedicate his life to fighting against injustice.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen had a disastrous first business, Traf-O-Data, but used the failure of that enterprise to learn lessons that helped in the success of their next business—Microsoft.

For Development: When you think back on your development as a leader, can you point to any crucible events that accelerated your leader development? This might have been a failure, some memorable challenge, or some notable experience that caused you to pause, reflect, and, perhaps, changed the course of how you led going forward. How might you use such crucible events going forward in your leader development?

Weekend 2

Days 13 & 14

Planning Your Leader Development Journey

What is your plan?

Here are the critical steps in developing a leader development plan:

Do a Self-Assessment. Where are you now? There are many ways to do this. You can ask trusted friends/colleagues to assess your leadership. You may be able to use performance reviews, particularly those that focus on elements of leadership. There are many assessment tools in this book, or directions on how to access them.

Set Leader Development Goals. What do you want to achieve, and when? What do you wish you were able to do more effectively now that you think would make a difference in your leadership effectiveness? Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable (neither too high, nor too low), Relevant (make sure that they are related to your leadership), and Time-Bound (set dates for achieving short-term and long-term goals). [There is information on goal-setting provided in Weekend 22 (Days 153 & 154) and on Weekend 44 (Days 307 & 308).]

Methodology. How will you do it? What methods will you use? There are lots of suggestions throughout this book (you may want to skip ahead and around).

Assessment. How will you measure leadership skill acquisition? Feedback on goal attainment is critical to leader development.

You can begin to develop your plan now, and refine it as you learn more and progress through this book (and other resources). A leader development plan should be a living document that stays with you and is constantly updated as you progress.

Week 3: Definitions of Leadership

Day 15

Defining Leadership

What is your definition of leadership?

Many decades ago, Ralph Stogdill6 stated there are as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept. No doubt, leadership is complex and it is hard to define precisely (although if you study different definitions of leadership you will find more similarities than differences).

For the next few days, we will explore different ways of defining leadership. Some of these definitions may resonate more with you. How you define leadership plays an important part in your leadership development process, as you will see.

For Development: Think about your own definition of leadership. What does it mean to you? It is a good idea to write this definition down for later reference. As you go through the leadership development process, you may find that your definition of leadership changes with time.

Day 16

Leadership is a Role

Can you play it well?

One way to define leadership is to see it as a complex role that people enact. If leadership is indeed a role, then how do we learn how to play it?

Like many other roles that we play, we have developed a sense of what the role entails. We learn this from experience throughout our life—observing leaders on the national or world scene, working for leaders, seeing our parents or other adults as leaders. From this, we develop a plan to govern our behavior when we are playing the leadership role. That plan includes certain expectations and norms, or rules, to guide us (e.g., in this situation, a leader should do X; a leader should be the decisionmaker and do it like Y).

This is why there is such variance in leaders’ styles and behaviors. If someone sees the leader role as being the strong, authoritarian type, that will relate to that leader’s style. Other leaders may see the role as being supportive and helpful to followers, and that guides their leader behavior.

For Development: Engage in some reflection: Think about how you see your own leadership role. What sorts of experiences with leaders in your own life led to the creation of your personal leadership role? How do you think others respond to your enacted leadership role/style? While you go through this daily leadership development guide, you might return to reflection on your preferred leadership role/style and decide to revise it—to make changes, or improvements.

Day 17

Leadership is a Set of Competencies

What is your personal competency model?

Another very common way to define leadership is to view it as a set of qualities, characteristics, and/or skills that are acquired and that enable an individual to lead. Some of these can be viewed as inborn traits, others are acquired skills. We will explore many of these throughout this book.

If you have been exposed to any formal leadership development in your workplace or as a participant in a leader development program at a school or in some other type of workshop, you have likely been exposed to that organization’s or program’s competency model. These competency models are useful to provide a roadmap for these programs to target for development.

For many years, the Kravis Leadership Institute used a simple competency model with three, general categories—leading self, leading others, and leading organizations—with specific competencies under each category (e.g., leading self: resilience, courage; leading others: empathy, collaboration; etc.). Likewise, the Social Change Model of Leadership, created by Susan Komives and colleagues7,  outlines three levels of values for undergraduate leader development: Individual, Group, and Society/Community.

For Development: Think about the leader competencies you believe are most important for leader effectiveness. Do a self-assessment of these. Which do you possess at high levels? Which do you need to develop? These can become part of your leader development plan.

Day 18

Leadership is a Relationship

How is leadership the same and different than other relationships?

Building relationship skills is the key to success as a leader, and in life. Another way to define leadership is to see it as a relationship between leaders and followers.

Leadership is not something that is done solely by the leader. Leadership is co-created by leaders and followers working together. In fact, it might be the other way around: followers may be more important to leadership, and getting things done, than leaders.

In any case, a leader’s success depends on the ability to create good relationships with followers. That is why, interpersonal skills, emotional skills, and being tactful are such important soft skills for leaders to develop.

It is important to understand that the leader-follower relationship is unique. It isn’t necessarily the case that leaders and followers have to be friends. It is imperative, however, that the relationship develops in a positive way, that both parties understand the reason for the relationship (i.e., getting things done), and that both strive to make the relationship work.

For Development: Reflect on your relationships with followers through the years. What were the features of the best relationships? What went wrong in the poor relationships? Was it due to a lack of common understanding of the leader-follower relationship? Was it a lack of effort? How can you strive to make your current and future leader-follower relationships better?

Day 19

Leadership is a Process

Leadership is not a static entity.

Another way to define leadership is to focus on the process. In reality, leaders, followers, and elements of the situation or context come together to create something that we call leadership. This is important because we naively tend to think of leadership as residing in the leader, or we think of it as an interaction between leader and follower, but it is much more complex than that.

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