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How to Grow as a Leader

Imagine you're at the beach and see someone struggling in the water. Your first thought is to jump in and save them, but . . . not so fast. If you’re not a strong swimmer, you could both end up in trouble. The same idea is true in business: If you’re barely keeping your own head above water, how will you ever help your team members and your business thrive? That’s why you’ve got to get strong by investing in yourself first.

Figuring out how to grow as a leader—and then doing it—is a continuous journey. Leadership expert John Maxwell calls this “raising your leadership lid.” The leadership lid is the idea that your business will never grow beyond your ability to lead. Translation: If you want your business to grow, you have to constantly grow as a leader.

So let’s get clear about what it means to invest in yourself, then we’ll look at how to raise your leadership lid and grow as a leader.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself?

When we say invest in yourself, we’re not talking about hiring someone to help you improve your golf swing (and maybe your self-respect on the golf course) or wallpapering your office with motivational sayings. While your golf swing and office décor may both need a lift, those are conversations for another day.   

To invest in yourself as a leader, you’ll need to use your resources to grow from the inside out, personally and professionally. A healthy, thriving business starts with a healthy, thriving you. That’s why Personal is the first driver in EntreLeadership’s 6 Drivers of Business, and it’s the first area leaders must focus on before they move on to the other five drivers: Purpose, People, Plan, Product and Profit.

To get traction in your personal growth, you’ll need to devote these three resources to your goal:

  1. Time
    If you want to grow, you’ve got to set aside time to do it. On the time management quadrant, personal development usually falls into the “important but not urgent” category—the things that are easy to put off but that massively impact life and business. But as you start to focus on them regularly, you’ll move toward the future you want.
  2. Energy
    Growing as a leader is hard work. Small-business expert Dave Ramsey puts it like this: “You have to believe in hard work or you won’t win.” So be intentional. The effort it takes to grow as a leader is much less than the energy you’ll waste juggling the wrong tasks and focusing on the wrong priorities.
  3. Money
    Sometimes the best things in life are free—like podcasts, borrowed books, insights from trusted leaders and peers. Other times, if you want to reach your full potential, you’ll need to spend some money on training, coaching and support. Money well spent when you see the positive change that comes from it.

How to Grow as a Leader

Here’s where the rubber meets the road to real growth. As you work through the four strategies below, you’ll see pretty quickly that each requires a different level of time, energy and money. So be honest with yourself about where you are and how fast you want to grow. Then invest in the steps that will keep you moving at the right pace.

1. Always be learning.

As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” And for many great minds—from Warren Buffett to Oprah Winfrey to our very own Dave Ramsey—reading is vital to learning. Why? Because reading isn't just about getting lost in a good story; it's a mental workout for your brain. It expands your vocabulary, reduces stress, and even improves your memory.


You probably thought running a business sounded fun—until you realized it would actually run you. Discover the EntreLeadership System—the small-business road map that takes the guesswork out of growth.

We know not everyone loves to read though—or has time to sit down with a great book. So here are some other ways you can learn too:

  • Listen to podcasts.
  • Watch training videos from business leaders you look up to.
  • Attend leadership and industry conferences.

Although you may feel the pressure to have all the answers for your business challenges, that’s impossible. It’s okay to learn from and lean on others. Humble, coachable leaders listen better, ask better questions, and fast-track their ability to grow as a leader.

Free EntreLeadership Reading Guide

What should EntreLeaders read? We've got our list of book recommendations, with 100 book titles on topics like hiring, business strategy, sales, leadership and more!

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2. Spend time with other leaders and business owners.

Ever heard that you’re known by the company you keep? It’s true. The people you surround yourself with influence who you are and what you achieve. So if you spend time with motivated, visionary people, you’re more likely to work harder and go farther too.

The thing is, most business leaders don’t keep company with other business leaders. In fact, only 37% of small-business owners have regular meetings with other small-business owners.1 That means a whole lot of business leaders are missing out on inspiration, advice and encouragement.  

You don’t have to go it alone. To stay connected with others:

  • Block time on your calendar to meet with leaders and businesspeople you respect.
  • Join a business mastermind group, also called an Advisory Group, to brainstorm, hold each other accountable, and help each other succeed.
  • Attend at least one business or leadership conference each year.

Related article: 4 Small-Business Challenges Every Leader Faces (and How to Overcome Them)

3. Invest in leadership coaching.

What business leader has time to waste? None. Yet sometimes on your way to crushing your professional growth goals, you hit a wall instead of taking new ground. That’s when an expert coach can help you see what’s holding you back and keep you accountable as you get unstuck. You’ve got a couple of options for coaching:

  • Work with a leadership coach in a group setting where you think through obstacles together and get to the root of your problems. 
  • Choose an Executive Coach if you want to do one-on-one work to grow personally. They’ll help you identify growth areas and develop a plan to tackle them.

4. Invest in your team's professional growth.

Wait—aren’t we talking about individual development? Yes. But here’s the thing: great leaders serve others. As you invest in up-and-coming team members and learn how to care for your team, you’ll become a better, stronger leader too.

Just what are the best ways to invest in your team?

  • Recognize their hard work and wins.
  • Plan regular workshops for your team members to work through challenges and develop new skills.
  • Invest in a leadership system that helps you lead your team, grow your business, and build a legacy.

EntreLeadership Resources

EntreLeadership focuses on these two main components that help small-business leaders grow: the 5 Stages of Business and the 6 Drivers of Business. This system also provides thousands of business leaders with tools, training and support to help them move forward. These resources can help you lead with more confidence too:

  • The EntreLeadership Podcast: Real-life, real-time coaching from Dave Ramsey 
  • EntreLeadership Elite: A digital membership full of training videos, templates and tools like Weekly Reports and Daily Top 3
  • Leadership coaching and workshops: Led by coaching experts who will help you and your team members work through challenges and level up
  • EntreLeadership conferences:
    • Summit is a world-class leadership conference where extraordinary business and thought leaders will challenge and inspire you in business and life.
    • Master Series is a more intimate small-business conference that will guide you on tactical ways to overcome challenges and accelerate growth.

Why Is Growing as a Leader Important?

When you face problems with your company, you’ll be tempted like the rest of us to point to the economy, the lack of opportunities, or your team. But ultimately, the problem is you. That’s the bad news and why growing as a leader is so important. The good news is, if you’re the problem, you’re also the solution. And the really good news is, as you succeed, you’ll help others grow too.

You’re the one person you can easily change. You can choose to raise your leadership lid and grow. So decide who you want to be and get about the business of becoming that person!


Next Step: Decide to Become a Better Leader

Wherever you are in your leadership journey, EntreLeadership will help you grow.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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