When was the last time you were challenged as a leader?

For many of us, it's easy to get stuck in the same patterns and behaviors when it comes to leading your team. In most cases, no one is going to point out your weaknesses unless you ask them to. So, if you want to become a better leader for your business, it's important that you look at yourself objectively and work towards improving your skillsets and behaviors.

Here's an exercise that I like to do with my key team members and business coaching clients to help them become better leaders. It'll help expedite your growth as a leader, and it starts by having you reflect on the following four specific areas.

Create criteria for success.

Coming up with your criteria for success is a phrase that's used in my company's quarterly action plan process as well, and it basically means to identify the things that have to happen in order for a plan or task to be successful.

So in this instance, in order for you to feel successful in a specific leadership development goal over the coming 12 months, what would have to happen?

Be concrete and specific here and write your answer down on paper alongside your leadership goals. At the end of the year, how are you going to know you were successful in this development goal? What would you see or what could you observe? The more clearly you lay out your criteria of success, the easier it will be for you to know how best to proceed quarter by quarter to hit these criteria of success.

Find key opportunities to practice, learn, and grow.

For the majority of business owners, finding opportunities to practice your leadership in your day-to-day life isn't difficult. The trick is to prime your brain to spot these organic practice opportunities to improve on your development goals in the ordinary flow of your work.

For instance, let's say that one of your goals is be more intentional and clear about project hand-offs and responsibilities. There are likely countless opportunities for you to practice this skill when working with your team on your day-to-day projects.

Consider your resources.

Growing as a leader can appear daunting, but if you take into account the various books, courses, coaches, mentors, managers, peers, and associations that you can leverage to help you reach your leadership development goals, the task is suddenly more manageable.

Do you belong to an industry group with experienced peers you can run challenges past and get input from? Do you have a business coach or mentor who can hold you accountable? If the answer is no, you may find it beneficial to do some research and connect with industry leaders to see who they recommend for coaching, mentoring, or peer-to-peer support.

Define your personal "why."

Growth takes energy, focus, and effort. So looking at how investing in your growth will benefit you will go a long way to helping you reach your intended goal. How will it benefit your organization? In what ways will growing as a leader help you be more successful? Have a greater positive impact? Enjoy your work more? Make your non-work life better? How will it impact your team?

It's been said that with a strong enough "why" any "how" becomes possible, so write down your reasons to remind yourself about your burning "why" for growing as a leader.

Basically, the first step to achieving your leadership goals is to write them out on paper and give yourself a score on where you stand currently and where you want to be. Then, look at your strengths and weaknesses, and have clear cut criteria for success down on paper. Lastly, you look at your personal "why" and make an inventory of what resources you have at your disposal. Now all that's left is making it happen through deliberate practice every single day.