Your team looks to you as its role model for leading and learning. What do they see? Does it look to them like you know it all, like you're stuck in the past or like you're just cruising? If your team sees your thirst for learning, they will model the same behavior. Your continual learning hones your competence . . . and competence builds confidence. Confidence is critical; inspiring coaches need it, and their teams want to see it.

Today more than ever, there is a "leadership lab" of learning activities and opportunities available to help you build your leadership skills and refine your coaching mindset. There is a treasure trove of knowledge about leadership and coaching at your fingertips, literally. But there is more to learn than just what you can read on the Internet.

You can find best coaching practices everywhere. Observe the coaches in your life. You can find nuggets of coaching excellence from a parent or in-law, a clergy person, a speaker at a professional association meeting, a fellow leader, your child's school principal, a scout troop leader, or a particularly helpful salesperson at a local department store. Watch, ask, listen, and learn.

There are also lessons to be learned in everything your team does. Look for learning opportunities in post- project reviews, customer meetings, conflicts with other departments, changes in priorities, miscommunications, and mistakes. Seize all these experiences to build your coaching mindset and skill set.

Another way to elevate your coaching game is to glean wisdom from mentors. Mentors offer you a precious glimpse into their life experiences. If experience truly is the best teacher, then you would be wise to study the life lessons and expertise of a mentor.

For the greatest benefit, seek out mentors with the specific skills you desire to acquire. Maybe it's the company's top strategist, the salesperson with the magnetic people skills, the teammate who consistently wows the crowd with presentations, or the executive who everyone wants to work for. Target their strengths and learn what makes them the best in their area. As our goals evolve or you enter a new stage of your career, your mentors will naturally change. Be prepared to end mentoring relationships (always with appreciation) and be willing to initiate new ones.

The brilliant scientist Albert Einstein once said, "Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." Wise words. Never stop learning. Take the time to invest in yourself so you can invest well in others.

Published on: Mar 18, 2020
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.