People who practice more often are more likely to become experts at what they do.
To be the best you can be, you must not only apply what you learn on the playing field, but you must also hone your skills on the practice field. We know this is true in the performing arts and in sports, but somehow people do not always apply the same idea to leadership. Professional leaders take practice seriously. The practice may be role playing a negotiation, rehearsing a speech, or a one-on-one dialogue with a coach. Whatever it is, practice is essential to learning.
Practice fields also offer the opportunity to try out unfamiliar methods, behaviors, and tools in a safer environment than on-the-job situations. You are more likely to take risks when you feel safe than when you feel highly vulnerable. Since the stakes are higher on the job than on the practice field, give yourself the chance to run some plays in practice before rushing into the game.
You can also treat every experience as a learning experience, even when it’s for real.
Whether you consider the experience a raving success or a miserable failure, step back and ask yourself and those involved, “What went well? What went poorly?” “What did I do well? What did I do poorly?” “What could we improve?” The best leaders are the best learners, and learning can occur anytime, anywhere. Take advantage of that fact.
Excerpted from the Leadership Practices Inventory Planner, 4th edition, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, © 2013, published by Pfeiffer/An imprint of Wiley. All rights reserved.