To Be a Great Leader Invest in Your Growth: Here’s How

In 2011, I reached a crossroads in my leadership journey.

My business was growing, but I had completely maxed myself out in the process. I had a small team around me, but I was filling multiple roles and resisting delegation. This is common behavior for an entrepreneur, but for me, it was also a dodge. I realize now that I was avoiding growing as a leader and adding valuable leadership skills.

Acceleration Partners has grown 20 times larger in the years since. That growth started when I looked in the mirror and realized that to build the business I wanted, I needed to improve and be the leader the business would require. I needed to build my capacity.

What I’ve learned in the past eight years is the ability to elevate your performance and achieve at a high level stems directly from challenging your limits and building your capacity for growth. When you do this for yourself, you encourage others to follow. Unlocking this potential — in business and in life — has become an ongoing quest for me.

Pursuing your full potential

Capacity building is the method through which we seek, acquire and develop the leadership skills necessary to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of our innate potential. It is the foundation of my leadership approach to building a world-class company.

In my own leadership journey, and in speaking with hundreds of others who have made lasting improvements in their lives, I’ve discovered that there are four essential elements involved in capacity-building and all self-improvement: spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. Elevating your performance holistically requires improving these four areas through consistent, incremental growth.

It’s not enough to excel in some of these areas.  If one capacity is weaker than the others, it will inevitably keep you from reaching your ideal level of performance. Here’s how to understand each element, and a tip to grow your leadership skills.

Who are you, really?

Our spiritual capacity relates to who we are, what we want most from life and how we align our daily actions to those things. This starts with determining our core purpose and values, which can be difficult for many as it involves deep introspection and self-assessment.

Building spiritual capacity is vital to a fulfilling life — if you don’t have a destination in mind, you may waste a lot of time and energy running in the wrong direction.

A good way to start is to determine your core values — take time to carefully reflect on what matters to you. When are you happy and fulfilled?  In what settings do you feel frustrated and drained?  You’ll notice consistent words or phrases that come to mind. As an example, I am the type of person who is always supporting himself, somebody who would drive himself home from his own surgery. Knowing that about myself, I realized one of my core values is self-reliance.

Going through life without core values is like navigating without a GPS. Focus on what matters to you and pursue that.

“Capacity building is the method through which we seek, acquire and develop the skills necessary to consistently perform at a higher level in pursuit of our innate potential.” — Robert Glazer,Founder & CEO Acceleration Partners.

Start on offense

Intellectual capacity is about how we improve our ability to think, learn, plan and execute with discipline. Developing our intellectual capacity often involves setting and achieving goals, developing good routines and habits, and learning new leadership skills. Think of it as improving your operating system.

Your ability to achieve each day starts with how you spend your morning. Most high achievers I’ve met have a set routine: they use the first 30-60 minutes of the day to consider what they are grateful for, set their intention for the day, and ignore distractions like social media, negative cable news, or their inbox. Doing this, even if you start by getting up 15 minutes earlier and spending time meditating or journaling, will help you start the day on offense.

Appreciate your health

Physical capacity is our ability to improve our health, wellbeing and physical performance. While our brain helps drive and guide us through life, it’s our body that is asked to do the heavy lifting day in and day out.  If your body is weak and fatigued, your mental stamina and ability to focus will suffer as well.

Building physical capacity goes beyond just diet and exercise. A great way to start is to focus on stress management.  Stress is often treated as an inevitability of life, and functioning under heavy stress, or on little sleep, is often considered heroic.  You have to control your own schedule to combat stress. Schedule 15 minute breaks throughout the day, and, whenever possible, get eight hours of sleep nightly.  You’ll notice a difference in your energy and focus.

Embrace adversity

Emotional capacity determines how we react to challenging situations and people, as well as the quality of our relationships. Improving emotional capacity requires us to understand our feelings, accepting a certain amount of uncertainty in our daily lives, and figure out how to play to our strengths.

A great start is to focus on how you handle discomfort or challenges.  When something doesn’t go according to plan, do you allow it to ruin your whole day? If you see mistakes as an opportunity to learn — and view challenging situations as a way to push yourself to improve — you’ll be better prepared for everything life throws at you.

Being purposeful, talented and energized isn’t enough; you also need to make sure that the inevitable adversity life throws at you doesn’t derail your progress.

One of the most important outcomes of building your spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional capacity is the exponential impact it has on others, including friends, family, and those you lead. We each owe it to the people closest to us to be the best version of ourselves, and to inspire them to be their best as well.

Robert Glazer is a YPO member and the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global performance marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards, including Glassdoor's Employees' Choice Awards two years in a row. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward, author of the international bestselling book, Performance Partnerships, and of the new book, ElevateHe is a sought-after speaker by companies and organizations around the world and is the host of The Elevate Podcast.