5 Leadership Development Goals Managers Should Set in 2020

When it comes to superheroes, Batman is better than Superman, hands down. It isn’t even a contest. 

Yeah, I said it. 

It’s because Superman is just lucky, while Batman works hard to be the leader he is.

Okay, hear me out… Superman is basically the Swiss-Army knife of superpowers, right? 

He’s faster than a speeding bullet, which is a little show-offy since he’s also apparently made of space-kevlar. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound, which is also a weird flex considering he can fly. 

And then, if he wants to make lunch, he can just dart a laser-glare at a Hot Pocket and blow on a Coke for a second until they’re both the perfect temperature (molten lava and almost ice, respectively). He can probably sneeze hummus or something, too, but the comics never really explored it. 

And Batman? As far as I can tell, his only superpower is his trust fund. Otherwise, he’s just an oddly eccentric guy who dabbles in vigilantism and is really, really invested in his own personal growth. 

Batman trains hard with Kung Fu masters, conquers deadly homemade obstacle courses and learns cutting-edge gadgetry so well that he could probably teach your grandparents how to reset their WiFi.

That’s why Batman develops so many up-and-coming superheroes — Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, another dozen or so Robins — while Superman spends his free time pining for a coworker. 

Dc Comics Dance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My point is, if you’re a manager and want to be successful in developing the next generation of leaders, it’s important that you never stop developing yourself. You need to set goals for your personal growth in order to better help others achieve theirs. 

And there are 5 surefire ways you can this year.

What are the top 5 leadership goals for managers in 2020? The top 5 leadership goals managers should set this year are:

  1. Know yourself better
  2. Do less, but more of the things that matter
  3. Think macro, invest micro
  4. Pursue mastery
  5. Mentor someone

While a lot of these are not especially measurable, they are still high-level goals we should be setting for ourselves in order to inspire change and action. You can — and should — bring them to life by tying them to more specific goals and actions you can measure.

We’ll be going over each in more depth, so keep reading if you want to learn how to be an exceptional leader like Batman…  and not a leader who doesn’t even know the order of operations for pants and underwear, like Superman.

1. Managers should know themselves better 

You can be whoever you want to be. 

We’ve all heard this a million times growing up from teachers, parents, Saturday-morning cartoons and hot dog jingles. 

And they were all lying to us. 

You will never be an Oscar Mayer Weiner; I’m sorry. 

As much as I’d like to, I’ll never be Michael Jordan, Michael Buble, John Calipari or Chip Gaines. So, I’ll never be able to coach myself in a soothing baritone as I dunk on the home court I crafted from reclaimed cedar.

But there is something even more encouraging than this saying — and, better yet, it’s true. 

You can be exactly who you were meant to be. You can be the best version of yourself possible. That’s how every great leader managed to be, well, great. 

Aren’t you glad Gandhi wasn’t trying to be the heavyweight boxing champ? Even if he could make weight, I’d hate to see the guy hop in the ring with Tyson. 

Mike Tyson Smile GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But that would never happen because Gandhi his own purpose and mission.

See, the best version of you knows your purpose and is on fire about your mission. The best version of you is the on who knows your unique gifts and is secure and humbly confident in who you are. The best version of you is a master of your craft and steps up, and in, to your individual awesomeness. 

The best version of you would knock your freakin’ socks off. But most of us are only scratching the surface of our potential. 

If you want to unlock your best-self, it takes work. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do at first, but you need to know who you are and who you want to be. You can add structure, a roadmap and goal-planning to get there along the way. 

You do need to commit to getting there, though. 

As leaders, we also need to support our people in getting clarity on their purpose, unique gifts and how they should grow into their best selves as leaders. We need to connect the dots for how all of this aligns with their work at our company, too.

And that’s a whole lot easier when you have that clarity for yourself. 

2. Managers should do less (but more of the things that matter)

All you high-performers out there: It’s really important that you know you don’t need to do more. 

In fact, you’ll probably benefit from doing less

Most high-performers I’ve worked with try to do absolutely everything… and I’ll admit I’m guilty of it myself. 

We feel like we’re falling behind if we aren’t crushing it every waking hour, every day of the week. And we’re probably still doing more than any human should. 

But it’s more than that, we need to learn to do less because some of the things we’re doing get in the way of the things that really matter.

If we go back to Batman for a second, realize that even that guy has a butler! That’s because it’s pretty hard to fight crime all night if you spend all day washing blood out of pleather and spandex or dusting the Batcave.

As leaders, we need to step off the treadmill of hustle every once in a while to spend that energy on what matters most to us.

Cardio GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Maybe not this guy…

We need to schedule our values. We need to put the non-negotiables on our calendars first — time for family, friends, health or even just time to think. 

In our work, we need to do less of the things that drain our energy without driving any real value. We need to prioritize the things that truly move the needle in our companies. 

And, the best part is, if we spend more time on the important things we actually care about, it usually gives us energy, rather than sucking it out of us like a vampire bat lurking in our to-do list.

Of course, as leaders, we should also be encouraging our high-performers to do the same. If we want to develop great leaders, we need to be passing on these skills early. 

3. Managers should think macro and invest micro 

Think big. Act small. That’s how you change the world.

It’s also how you transform your life to pursue the best version of yourself. 

Excellence isn’t something you do once. Nobody just pulls a sword from a stone or steals it from some amphibious woman — I can’t remember which one made him King Arthur — and becomes a great leader.

Excellence is a habit. It’s something you sharpen and hone daily through consistency and discipline with intentional, fruitful habits. And this cuts both ways. Mediocrity is forged by mediocre habits, too.

John Maxwell said you can never change your life unless you change something you do daily. And he’s right. If you want to grow as a leader, you need to take inventory of your habits and decide where you need to make changes.

What habits do you want to build? Do you want to streamline your morning routine? Maybe you want to start journaling, walking more or spending more time volunteering. Maybe you want to learn how to ride a unicycle. 

The point is, if your habits aren’t helping you reach your goals, they’re taking up space in your daily routine that could be spent on reaching them. 

Hendrix had to develop a guitar habit. Michael Phelps had to spend some time every day not drowning before he could be the fastest at it. And Batman probably had to punch purse-snatchers every day in order to be good enough to beat up a clown. 

Jack Nicholson Laughing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you start small and work new habits into your routine that drive your personal growth, it adds up. 

As people-leaders, we want our people to lead healthy, productive and thriving lives — both because we want what’s best for them and because we know it makes for healthy, productive and thriving leaders at work. 

What better way to help our people achieve this than by setting the example ourselves?

4. Managers should pursue mastery

Jack of all trades, master of one. 

That’s what Ben Franklin actually said — and it makes a lot more sense than the common misquote. His point was we should strive to be well-rounded, but be masters at that one thing that is most important to us.

And maybe it’s just because his portrait looks so reassuring on the $100 bill, but I say we trust him.

Every leader needs to master something. 

It’s good to be good at myriad things, but we actually produce more value when we are absurdly good at one thing in particular. It can be narrow or broad, but you need to pick a craft and master it.

When Kobe Bryant sadly passed away earlier this, there was a ton of attention — even more than one would expect from an untimely celebrity death. People across the world felt the tragedy deeply and personally, even if they weren’t die-hard basketball fans. 

Why? Because Kobe exuded his passion for, and mastery over, his craft in everything he did. And it was contagious.

Despite being naturally talented — enough to earn truckloads ol’ Ben Franklin’s portaits at a young age — he never took his talent for granted. He cultivated a work ethic that inspired and motivated his peers to aim higher.

Kobe’s ultimate weapon was his mindset. He defined the “winner’s mentality.” He was a champion before he had ever stepped on an NBA court. And this made him a natural leader.

Happy Kobe Bryant GIF by SHOWTIME Sports - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty unlikely I’ll ever grace an NBA court.

But I can apply the same passion for mastering my own craft — developing high-potential, mission-driven leaders to grow into the best versions of themselves. 

And you can be the Kobe of your craft. You can be the Kobe of sales leaders, technologists, operations managers, podcasters, HR executives — whatever your craft is, you can be Kobe.

You just have to apply yourself in a way that others won’t. You need to have a mindset for mastery. A winner’s mentality. You need to ooze passion and excellence out of every pore in a way that inspires others to do the same.

You need to master your craft so well that you leave a legacy that lives on after you.

And a great way to do that is by cultivating the next generation of leaders to pass the torch to. So, as a leader, you need to encourage your people to become masters of their craft, too. 

5. Managers should mentor someone

Do you remember how kings used to operate? They had ultimate power over their countries, citizens, armies — even their justice system. 

But… it was hereditary. So, sometimes you’d get great, noble kings presiding over a golden era; other times, you’d get a guy who had a real penchant for chopping off heads. It was like a game of genetic Russian Roulette for whole countries every time an heir was born.

The weirdest thing, though, is that sometimes this would happen back to back. A great king would die and his son would destroy the entire country in about 9 minutes. How does that happen? 

Well, obviously, the great king was a terrible mentor. And he probably could have been an even better king if he had taken the time to mentor his successor. 

Mel Brooks Comedy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That’s why it’s important for leaders to be a river and not a reservoir. 

You should consume great content and soak up all the learning you can, but you need to share the wisdom you gain with others so they can grow with you, too.

If you’re like me, it’ll also be easier to internalize all the things you learn if you take the time to teach them to others. It makes what you are teaching real. It makes applying the lessons to your own life that much easier. 

And, sure, we may not need to worry about someone we neglected to mentor going on a beheading spree or an ill-advised invasion of a neighboring office. But, as leaders, our legacy and lasting impact reside in how the knowledge we’ve gained has shaped the world and its future for the better.

So, I’d encourage you to seek out the opportunity to invest your wisdom into another human — and you should be encouraging your high-potential talent to do the same. 

Summing up…

In order to develop our high-potential talent to be great leaders, we need to never stop developing ourselves. 

While this list may not turn you into the caped crusader, putting work into achieving these goals will do something even better: Turn you into the best version of you that you can be. 

That is, assuming you can remember them.

In case you cant… 

Managers should set goals for themselves and their teams to: 

  • Know themselves better and pursue the best version of themselves
  • Do less, but more of the things that actually matter
  • Think macro, invest micro and develop habits for growth
  • Pursue mastery of their craft
  • Mentor someone and be a river not a reservoir

That’s all for today! 

If you’re craving more leadership development goodness or content on all things culture, be sure to subscribe to B2B Growth on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or follow along on our website.

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