We want leaders to grow up too fast.  We want them ready-made at an early age.  The reality is the best leaders are those who are seasoned.  They have battle scars and callouses on their souls.  The best leaders have made mistakes, fallen down but got back up to make a difference in the lives of people.  They have persevered.  The best leaders are developed in a crock pot, not a microwave.

In the March 2nd edition of Sports Illustrated, writer Lars Anderson profiled the winner of this year’s Daytona 500 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  The following are 10 Practices Of Maturing Leaders I gleaned from the article.

  1. Maturing Leaders Focus On Others – Earnhardt said, “I was spoiled.  Everything was about me.  Everyone around me did what I said.  I didn’t listen to anyone.”
  2. Maturing Leaders Prioritize Their Home Life – Earnhardt goes on, “But then Amy (Reimann) came into my life.  She showed me what it meant to make sacrifices, to honor commitments, to work hard at things.”  Richard Petty adds, “When your home life is crap, your racing life is crap.  And when your home life is good, your racing life is good.”
  3. Maturing Leaders Become More Disciplined – Previously, Earnhardt’s racing style included frequent mistakes, causing wrecks, pit row mishaps, and not trusting his instincts.
  4. Maturing Leaders Develop Their Inner-Circle – Earnhardt began spending more time with his crew chief Steve Letarte.
  5. Maturing Leaders Lift Others Up – After needlessly losing the Coca-Cola 600, rather than having an explosive temper, Earnhardt hugged Letarte and said, “That was awesome; we’re getting closer.  Let’s keep at this.”
  6. Maturing Leaders Trust Their Team To Do Their Jobs – Letarte responded by saying, “Right then I knew I had Dale’s complete trust.  It freed me up to go with my gut and try to improve the car without second-guessing myself.”
  7. Maturing Leaders Are Humble Enough To Be Teachable – Earnhardt and Letarte began sitting in on teammate and NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson’s post-practice briefings.
  8. Maturing Leaders Take Care Of Their Body – At a certain point all leaders must grow up.  Giving up his alcohol-filled past, Earnhardt abstains from drinking for four days prior to arriving at each track.  He has also instituted a physical training schedule.
  9. Maturing Leaders Have More Confidence – Confidence flows from memory.  Earnhardt says, “My confidence level has never been higher, and that’s critical for me.”
  10. Maturing Leaders Respect Their Elders And Honor The Past – Earnhardt concluded, “I think of my dad when I’m here (Daytona), but not the way people might imagine.  It’s O.K. that he lost his life here.  He died driving a race car, his love.  I’m O.K. with that.  I feel good here now.  I have good feelings about him.  I think he’d be proud now.”

Focus On Others, Prioritize Your Home, Become Disciplined, Develop Your Inner-Circle, Lift Others Up and Trust Them, Be Teachable, Take Care Of Your Body, Have Confidence and Respect Your Elders.  If you practice these 10 things, you are maturing as a leader.

Which of these do you need to work on?


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