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Become a Great Leader Through Continuous Learning


Motivational Mondays is now available on all podcast platforms!

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In last week’s episode, Adam Grant shared the power of relearning and recognizing what you don’t know. As a New York Times bestselling author, top-rated professor at Wharton, and one of the most influential management thinkers of our time, he helps us live more generous and creative lives.

This week, in part two of our interview, Adam shares how to create your own opportunities, the difference between reactive and proactive people, the qualities that make great leaders, and the importance of a challenge network.

Create Your Own Opportunities

In one of the more prolific moments in our conversation, we discuss how to succeed when there is seemingly little or no opportunities. In response, Adam offers a quote from Milton Burrow, "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

He goes on to share that he has spent most of his career studying the differences between reactive and proactive people. Adam says, "Reactive people basically wait for life to happen to them. Proactive people take the initiative to question the way things have always been done to raise problems and concerns, and suggestions, and to run experiments.”

For instance, he uses entrepreneurs such as Sara Blakely and Reid Hoffman as examples, who had very little confidence they were going to succeed when building Spanx and LinkedIn, respectively. But they both had confidence in their ability to learn.

In essence, as proactive people, they said, “I don't know if this is going to work or not, but I sure want to find out what happens if I try."

What Makes a Great Leader?

When people think of leadership, many believe that a certain set of skills are needed to be effective. However, Adam dispels that notion, and states that what you actually need is a combination of character and competence.

He says that some of the character traits that make a great leader are caring about something larger than yourself, being aware of your weaknesses, figuring out how to overcome them, and standing by a set of principles others think are important.

But leaders are more than that. He encourages potential leaders to embrace and utilize their past failures as learning tools. In essence, failure is one of the most common denominators of accomplished innovators who, as Adam says, 'always fail before they succeed.'

Additionally, leaders need to acquire some of the less-celebrated skills, such as the ability to manage and execute a strategy, to set clear goals, provide feedback, and hold people accountable.

This may sound like a lot for one person, but it’s easier when you surround yourself with the right people.

Build a Challenge Network

At the end of the episode, Adam shares some actionable advice we can put into place right now to become better leaders. To be our best selves, Adam says we need to build a support network and a challenge network

A support network is a group of people who believe in your potential and support you when you’re down. On the other hand, your challenge network consists of people that you can rely on to tell you when you are doing your best –or not. 

Adam thinks about his challenge network as his toughest critics who decimate his ideas to make sure he has completely thought them through. But, even though it can be difficult to hear this type of criticism, it always helps him learn and grow his ideas. 

This is something we can all use as we try to become the best version of ourselves. The full episode shares how Adam uses his challenge network for continuous improvement.

NSLS members, listen to the bonus episode in the Members Area to hear even more in-depth advice from Adam.



Motivational Mondays is now available on all podcast platforms!

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