Personal Development: Building Leaders

By Jodi Low, U & Improved

Are leaders born or bred? It’s an age-old question. The answer is: both. Some individuals who come into this world are born to lead. They’re the “natural-born leaders” we hear so much about. Others start out more timid and fearful. They don’t see in themselves what we see in them so clearly. With the right guidance and training, however, people who are more timid and fearful can blossom right in front of your eyes, becoming some of the most powerful leaders you can imagine.

An overwhelming number of people lack self-confidence, self-esteem or decisiveness—the qualities that natural-born leaders seem to be blessed with from the get-go. How do they develop leadership skills that have not been brought to the surface for the world to see? And how do born leaders continue to challenge themselves, sharpening their skills to become even better, kinder and more empowering to those around them?

Leadership is a skill, but it’s also a quality and a characteristic. What we do with it is ultimately up to us. It is something that requires nurturing and cultivation to become tangible and recognizable. The great news is that we all have the same potential. We all have the ability to choose to lead others and, most important, ourselves.

“But how?” you might ask.

There are classes and trainings, coaches and mentors, and books and videos. All are incredibly valuable tools that will help you make a change and upgrade your skills. Yet simply thinking about being a better leader will not automatically make you one. The human mind only retains about 10 percent to 25 percent of what it sees and hears. However, it can retain up to 95 percent of what it experiences. So it’s really all about taking action.

In order to develop leadership skills, you need practice. A great way to get more practice is through immersion-style training. Through this training, you gain the experiential skills and tools that you can use in everyday life. And the best part? What you experience stays with you. The lessons and techniques that you obtain last you for a lifetime.

Scottsdale-based U & Improved is an example of an organization that offers immersion-style trainings that bring out the best in people and companies. Our trainings lead people through a series of challenges and processes that allow them to practice leadership behaviors vs. just talking about it. We don’t talk about living with passion and enthusiasm. We practice it!

The best part of developing yourself as a leader is that it positively affects and impacts every area of your life, including your relationships, the way you communicate with others, the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, and the way you simply “show up” in this world.

If you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to shine, why not? If you haven’t brought out of the best in those around you, at home or at work, how come? The best investment of time and money you can ever make is in yourself and in those you care about.

You deserve to live your best life. So what better day to begin your best life than today?

Go out there and take the time to develop yourself and your teams. Read that book. Go to that seminar. Take that class. Just say “yes!” to you. You don’t have to be born with leadership skills or characteristics. You just have to uncover what you have always had inside and bring it to the surface for the world to see.

Jodi Low is president and founder of U & Improved, a Scottsdale-based leadership training organization that provides personal and professional development programs through heart-based leadership and powerful, performance-based trainings. More: