The Learning Cycle of a Leader

I’m a firm believer that as a leader, it is imperative to continuously learn. To be humble in acknowledging that no matter how long I stay in a leadership role, I will never “arrive.” I will never know it all. There will always be something for me to learn.

For most of my career I have kept a leadership journal. It is a tool I embraced while in graduate school, as it was a requirement of my doctoral program.

My journal is a place where I reflect on current challenges and areas of growth or areas where I might be excelling.

I note quotes from books or articles I am reading. I list goals that I want to accomplish. I remind myself of particular strengths and weaknesses and ways to celebrate and improve both.

It’s a place where I document my growth as a leader.

I am encouraging the GSHCC leadership team to also keep leadership journals. To find some way to document this important and influential path they have chosen. For if the first step in being a leader is knowing yourself, a journal is a great tool in making this happen.

I recently pulled out a journal from more than 20 years ago. At the time, I was a “youngish” leader and the director of a school in Texas. I barely felt qualified for my job. It was exhausting work and with faculty and students looking on, I needed to be at my leadership best.


An entry from this 1995 journal resonated with me today—reminded me of that continual learning process and reinforced the need to continue to reflect, to learn, to grow. For what I wrote 22 years ago is something I could write today:

One of the best gifts I can give my staff is for me to know my strengths and weaknesses. To be caring, but not an enabler; to be respectfully honest; to confront with compassion; to communicate openly; to treat them fairly; to act with integrity; to create an environment of learning.

I am so glad to have my own words as a reminder and to realize that insight would hold true so many years later.

I’ll keep writing and reflecting my way through this leadership journey. It’s one of the best tools to help with this incredible responsibility.


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