5 ways to grow your leadership, your business and yourself

Here are ideas to focus on as you grow your skills as a leader, courtesy of Dana Sproule, a life and leadership coach.

Dana Sproule standing by bright window looking outside, holding cup of coffee. She's wearing a mustard yellow sweater.

“I am utterly convinced that good leadership makes every single job a place where people can contribute and thrive,” said Dana Sproule, a life and leadership coach. — Photo Madelyn P. Photography

“All too often, people get promoted into leadership positions because they were very good at their job,” said Sproule. “Suddenly they find themselves in a role that requires an entirely different set of skills than their old job required.”

Sproule is a life and leadership coach, with a long professional history of helping to develop teams and leaders. After she first experienced coaching for herself, she found herself marveling that such a job existed—and wondering how she could transition to working in the coaching space.

In 2021 Sproule went through training, and started Burning Point Coaching and Consulting. Today she works with individuals, teams and businesses that are committed to their own growth and development. She has found her passion.

“I am utterly convinced that good leadership makes every single job a place where people can contribute and thrive,” said Sproule. “So, it is a gift every time I can offer what I know and contribute to stronger leadership for others.”

If you are new to leadership—or are realizing that leadership is harder than you thought—here are some things you need to know.

1. Clarify your priorities

Most people have the capacity to really prioritize two or three things. The question, then, is what will these be for you? Which areas of focus will make the most difference over the course of six months to a year and will move you toward your goal?

  • Intentionally put your priorities into your calendar. If innovation is one of your priorities, for example, schedule time for brainstorming about a chosen topic in each team meeting or practice starting each meeting with, “What’s something new that you tried this month?”
  • Create “containers” in your calendar for things that have to be done, but aren’t priorities. For example, you might set aside Friday afternoon for processing expense reports. Then, any time an expense report crosses your desk, you can put it in the Friday-afternoon folder and not think about it until then.

2. Develop your people

Leadership is essentially about motivating and developing people. Sometimes leaders get stuck on the numbers and results—you have to remember that people are the most important thing. Also, if you are a numbers person, remember that it is much cheaper to retain a good employee than it is to hire a new one.

Group of people sitting around table in office setting, woman standing at head of table talking.

People are the most important thing to consider in a leadership position. Cultivating positive relationships with your work team is crucial. — Photo courtesy AdobeStock

  • Meet individually with people on a regular basis, at least twice a month. Use that time to get to know them and build them up—this time is not for performance reviews. Try to make this a meeting that you both enjoy.
  • When you’re meeting, learn about your people. Identify their key strengths and what motivates them.
  • Give regular encouragement and praise. Focus on the positive in a genuine way.
  • Regularly ask, “What do you need to be more effective here?” Listen and take them seriously—do whatever you can to give them what they need.

3. Build your team

A strong, cohesive, adaptable team can do anything. However, building a good team takes time and attention, so make it one of your priorities.

  • Schedule regular time together and give those your best energy. Your meetings should be engaging and inspiring. People should want to be there.
  • Communicate clear priorities with your team. Make sure they know what’s expected and how that will be measured, and then stop micromanaging.
  • Build trust by having shared values that everyone understands and lives by. Address conflict or violations of those values directly and quickly—this is how your team learns how to operate together, and that they can trust you.

4. Do your own inner work

“Power doesn’t solve problems, it amplifies them,” said Sproule. “When you step into leadership, the things you struggle with right now will get bigger and have more serious consequences.”

Whatever it is—anger, anxiety, procrastination—as you move into positions of leadership your entire team will be impacted by your own personal patterns. On the flip side, growing personally will be helpful in all your work relationships and processes.

  • Take the time to work with a professional to increase your self-awareness and learn healthy strategies.
  • Learn how to identify your triggers and how to handle uncomfortable emotions so they don’t overwhelm you.
  • Work on your character, integrity, and attitude. Skills can be taught, but those things have to be in you.

5. Get a coach

“Leadership is relational in nature,” said Sproule. “You can’t learn it in isolation, and it doesn’t just happen. You don’t just get good at it over time.”

She believes that searching out help is something you—and those you’re leading—deserve.

Dana Sproule, posed with hands up by face, B&W photo.

— Photo Madelyn P. Photography

  • Look around your workplace. Can you get that development where you are? Is there someone you want to learn from? Will they prioritize teaching you?
  • If not, get direction somewhere else. Get a coach. Spend a year with them—go through all the seasons and all the unexpected successes and failures.
  • Do it, even if it’s expensive. You will emerge from that year confident, calm, clear, and more effective. Your team will respect you and begin to thrive. You will enjoy your work, instead of dreading it, and be able to leave a legacy behind.

What to expect if you invest in coaching

Burning Point Coaching offers a free consultation for any prospective client.

Those who sign up for leadership coaching will spend the year working one-on-one with Sproule as they learn how to spend their time, develop their people and build their team.

“Regardless of their experience, I guarantee they will be a stronger, more confident and more compassionate leader when we're done,” said Sproule. 

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen studied at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and has worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction, retail to restaurants. She now brings her understanding of the area to Kootenay Business magazine. View all of Kristen Mitchell’s articles

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