Mark Susnow

Article Summary:

Ten steps towards leadership development.

Leadership Development Plan

Many people are born leaders, yet the ability to lead is actually an art and an amazing collection of skills which can be learned and sharpened through a series of daily habits and activities. The following top ten steps will guide you to discovering the leader within and to growing each and every day in amazing ways personally, professionally, and spiritually.

1. Spend 30 minutes each day considering your depth of character.
Your depth of character is key to determining your success as a leader. It is easy for us to say that we are "in integrity," but your actions are the real indicators of strength of character. Spend 30 minutes each morning looking at the major areas of your life: career, marriage, family, community, and spirituality. Write down any instances where you see "cracks" (you have cut corners, something is inconsistent, you have not kept your word, you have been dishonest, etc.) Do all in your power to repair those cracks by apologizing and dealing with the consequences of your actions. After facing up to past actions, begin a plan that will rebuild you and prevent you from making further mistakes.

2. Be dedicated to a high level of learning.
Great leaders are highly competent, because they are dedicated to a high level of learning, growth, and improvement. Spend 15-30 minutes each day devoted to learning something new. Do not settle for knowing "how" to do something. Dig deeper by asking the question "why" and then, go find the answer. Search the internet, interview an expert, or take a day trip to find the answer to a question that is on your mind or the minds of those who follow you.

3. Follow a regular exercise routine.
One on the most practical habits you can develop is a regular exercise routine. There is no question that regular exercise has many benefits. The most energetic people that we come in contact with all exercise. They look better, feel better and always seem to have time to do what they want. From a health prospective there are numerous studies that document the value of health·.just read any of the bulletins from the American Heart Association. And many leaders that we have spoken with have told us that during exercise solutions to challenges are revealed while exercising.

4. Discover your strengths.
The strengths profile finder from the book NOW! Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. is a revolutionary program which can show you how to discover and then develop your unique talents and gifts. One of the secrets to discovering your leadership potential lies in your ability to exercise your strengths, not in dwelling on your weaknesses. This tool by Buckingham and Clifton can guide you to becoming a high performing and empowered individual.

5. Tap into your creativity.
Many adults move through life thinking "I am not creative," and wondering "What if?" As humans, we all have the ability to be wildly creative, and sometimes, this requires practice. By spending time each day with the support of tools such as "Five Star Mind" by Tom Wujec, you can begin to unlock and expand the creative potential that lies deep within you. Using puzzles, mind-mapping, word association, and the power of curiosity, you can stimulate your intuition, innovation, and creative expression. As Napoleon Hill stated "All the 'breaks' you need in life wait within your imagination. Imagination is the workshop of your mind, capable of turning mind-energy into accomplishment and wealth." As your creativity soars, you will find that others will view you as a leader and will be attracted to you for your amazing ability to be innovative.

6. Be willing to interrupt your thought patterns.
Herbert Benson, M.D., a Harvard cardiologist, in his latest bestseller The Breakout Principle, describes a four stage process in which new insights and peak experiences are achieved. According to Benson and his researchers, the first stage is when there is a crisis or a problem that you are attempting to solve. What is important in the second stage is to interrupt your thought pattern by breaking away from your predicament and doing something totally different. You might leave the building and take a walk, go to the gym, or listen to some music. It is during this second phase, the interrupting your routine that the peak experiences occur.

7. Start or join a Master Mind Group.
Did you know that Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone were all members of a Mastermind Group? This group of Leaders knew something many of us do not know. They knew that the key to their success was in their ability to rely on each other for feedback, ideas, accountability, and above! These men controlled much of the industry of the United States during the height of their careers. Innovation and expansion in human thought often result from teams that mentally capitalize on the principle of collaborative thinking. With spontaneous expression and interchange of thoughts with folks who are up to big things in life, a mastermind group can shift your awareness, expand your thinking, and can take you to unprecedented levels of leadership.

8. Don't be a one trick pony.
If you spend all your time and energy working, you limit your understanding of yourself and of people in general. When that happens you will find it difficult to connect and you will not be very enrolling. Have an open mind and develop interests and hobbies. Be involved in your community. Develop the ability to talk about other subjects than your work. Become a complete person.

9. Develop the ability to fully express yourself and be a better communicator.
Have you ever had a meeting or encounter with someone and as soon as it was over, you said to yourself "why didn't I say that?" If you haven't had that experience you are unique. The ability to express ourselves is an essential tool in our ability to create impact. Develop this skill. Be aware of what you are really feeling in the particular moment so that you do not make agreements you do not intend to keep. You might want to consider joining Toastmasters or Speaking Circles to fine tune your ability to speak on your feet.

10. Embrace change.
It's happens everyday - that is change. Prepare to adapt to what is happening. Have you ever noticed how rapidly children change and we as adults try to put the brakes on change. Studies show that the average person has at least five different careers. Change can lead to innovation and can be exciting. Ask yourself what is possible. Ask yourself what can I create? Prepare yourself for change. Try something like yoga. It makes your mind more flexible and as a result you look at life differently.

Mark Susnow has a unique background& A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. His articles reflect this journey in an inspirational and motivational way. To find out more about Mark and his services, be sure to visit his website

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