Gathering Light

One of the more interesting findings from my leadership research is the fact that a significantly greater number of leaders see themselves needing information on how to develop their own potential than they do in developing others. But why? Why do they struggle so much with charting their own path forward?

I believe, to a large extent, they really don’t know, or aren’t confident in, “What Works?”

Well it doesn’t have to be that difficult. I’d like to suggest a very effective, and rather simple, personal leadership development practice. It’s not the only thing to do, but it’s definitely one of the things which should be done. To grow as a leader you need to “gather more light.” Let me explain.

Look at the two pictures below. Wouldn’t you agree the second image reveals a lot more that the first? And yet, they’re pointed at virtually the same spot in the night sky. So what makes the difference? In the second image, the photographer held the lens open longer, gathered more light, and thus revealed a much more complete picture than was first imagined.

©2015 by Craig Pynn –


©2015 by Craig Pynn –


Here’s the leadership story …

As a leader, feedback is light. When you open yourself up to what other people are experiencing, you’ll get information that fills in the gaps – gives you a truer idea of what’s happening, and what exists.

What I’m suggesting is that as you improve your ability to get feedback, you get a much brighter, complete picture of your impact. Gather very little feedback – you’re in the dark.

To get more feedback, you need to ask more questions. “What are your thoughts? What do you think about this? How do you feel? What’s going right? What needs improvement? What would be a better approach?” Questions shed light on situations.

The first time you ask, you may not get much. But stick with it. Over time, people will become more forthcoming, and comfortable. And honest. And that’s when you can really learn about yourself.

If you think people want to fix you in one way or another, don’t get hung-up on that. Don’t become hostile. Or defensive. You don’t have to answer, or explain every deficit. Hear what they have to say. Understand how they feel. See things from their point of view. Find out where you’re making mistakes (there will be plenty, let me assure you). Think about their input.

You’ll begin to see how you can get better results. Then, you just have to have the courage and dedication to actually implement your insights.

Follow the light.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom.

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This article is based on the *’The High Points Survey: What Managers Most Want to Know about Leadership,’ copyright 2012, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at .

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