Your 7,820 steps to becoming a successful leader

Okay, perhaps I began with an overstatement when implying that there are thousands of steps on the road to leadership. Or did I?

When reading ‘ABC or 1-2-3-4-5 steps to success’ type of books, the world of leadership can look manageable and simple for a while. However, every now and then these assumptions seem to be challenged by everyday issues. We suddenly identify a huge number of development tasks along our leadership path. Or sometimes we may even feel that we are retracing our steps due to one unsuccessful moment.

I’m sorry to repeat this, but this is not how things generally work in reality, where life is much more complex than ‘black-and-white’ or ‘ABC‘ solutions. Just one primary colour has thousands of variants! So I can understand why a supply chain or sales manager sometimes sighs almost before hearing about a new leadership model. Such a leader may feel unsure of the next step to take, let alone the entire path ahead.

I am currently busy with my PhD on good leaders. There will be interesting topics to share later as the work proceeds, but one issue is already clear: a successful leader is keen on learning.

This means that such leaders are curious about new ways of thinking, or trying out or making something; interested to hear anything that their team members can tell them, and therefore ready to devote a lot of time and effort to learning. And, because they learn, and know that they are learning all the time, they do not hesitate to make corrections to their approach. They may make corrections to the direction taken, their behaviour, even decisions, ways of operating with others, or the way they view reality and planet Earth. These corrections are not picked up randomly, but are made on the basis of what the leaders have learnt.

To be honest, I am not sure of which step out of the 7,820 I am currently on as a leader. Perhaps you find it difficult to define yours too. On the other hand, I guess that we both accept and are ready to share the fact that continuous learning is at least one step towards becoming a better leader. That is why the title of my PhD will be ‘Learning Leader’. This genuinely feels like a firm step onto ground on which anyone can rest securely.


 Article by Antti Uski, HR Director at Kiilto