First, find a mentor. Find a leader—in your organization or elsewhere – whom you respect, whom you’d like to emulate. (Like, “I wish I was the kind of leader Sue is!”) He or she should also be someone who knows you well.
Have the courage to ask them if they’d be willing to chat with you once a month or more to discuss your leadership challenges and opportunities—openly, honestly, courageously. Most great leaders have had mentors of one kind or another. Be brave enough to ask. It’s about your future—and the future of everyone you’ll ever manage.
And secondly…speaking of being brave…be brave enough to request a 360-degree review, if you haven’t had one recently. That means written input, from people above you, below you, as well as your peers—on how they see your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. We have a sample in the back of our book, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face.
Anonymity should of course be offered to make this feedback as honest as possible, but on the other hand the sure sign of the most mature relationships and culture in a workplace is the ability to deliver and receive tough feedback without hiding behind anonymity.
And talk to HR about 360s for managers if they don’t already do them. If they’re not routine, ask why? Every organization should do regular 360s for leaders. Any org that doesn’t is avoiding their responsibility to make sure their leaders are living up to their full potential—and not creating more harm than good.